A Chat with NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice

Interview Date: 1/8/09

It’s not often that a sports writer gets the opportunity to interview a sports legend. So when we were offered the chance to sit down and talk with former San Francisco 49er great Jerry Rice, we nearly leaped out of our seats.

Jerry has dabbled in a number of different professions since retiring from his Hall of Fame NFL career, including competing on “Dancing With the Stars” and more recently, acting. He has a cameo appearance in the movie, “Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling,” where he plays a character named Hal Gore (uh, Al Gore’s brother…seriously), who happens to be a bit off his rocker. (Hal’s game plan to stop global warming was focused around squirrel farts…again, seriously.)

Jerry was gracious enough to talk to us about his role in the movie, his experiences with acting and whether or not more acting was in his future. We also couldn’t let him get off the phone without asking him some gridiron questions, including his thoughts on who currently is the best wide receiver is in the game, what young quarterback has the best chance of winning a Super Bowl, and what defensive backs were the best he ever played against. He also filled us in how legends Joe Montana and Bill Walsh were pranksters, and whether or not coaching is in his future now that the 49ers have hired former player Mike Singletary has their next head coach.

Jerry Rice: Anthony!

The Scores Report: Jerry, it’s an absolute pleasure to talk with you!

JR: Not a problem. You’re the last one of the day, bud! It’s been a long day so I’m giving you my best.

TSR: Excellent! Well my first question has to be – is acting harder than playing in the NFL?

JR: (laughs)

TSR: It’s gotta be, right?

Jerry RiceJR: (still laughing) Yep! Of course it’s harder because it’s something that I’m not accustomed to. And in (my) particular scene in “Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling,” I play someone else. I don’t play myself. So that was the challenging part of that, but it gave me a chance to challenge myself and I’m always looking for opportunities like that and I think it brings out the best in me. Hopefully people look at this on DVD and they appreciate it and they like it.

TSR: Well I got a few laughs just watching you dressed up in that garb!

JR: I bet you did!

TSR: (laughs)

JR: That’s why they put me in that!

TSR: I’m sure it was. Why don’t you explain the role for people who haven’t seen the movie yet?

JR: I’m this mountain man whose been in the wilderness for about 30 years and I’ve got this long beard…I’ve got this coat that’s pretty much made out of squirrels and stuff like that…and I thought I had found this cure for global warming by way of squirrel farts.

TSR: (laughs)

JR: But hey, I had a great time making it, man.

TSR: How did you get involved in something like this?

JR: You know, this fell in my lap because Terry Bradshaw was supposed to do it and you know how crazy Terry is. Maybe Terry looked at it as, “there’s no way I’m doing that.” So they decided to contact me and they said, “do you want to do it?” And I said, yeah, I’ll go for it and I did, and I’m glad because to be associated with Paramount is an honor within itself. And to also work with the actors and actresses was really cool.

TSR: Is there a future in this for you or is this a one and done type thing?

JR: Hey, I’m hoping it’s not a one and done. You know, hopefully this opens up more opportunities for me just like “Dancing With the Stars” did. I feel as though I worked my butt off, I had fun with it and people are going to get a chance to see another side of me that they’ve never seen before. I’m going to watch the DVD tonight and I’m going to critique, and I’m sure I’m going to look at certain parts and say to myself, “I could have done that better than that, but that’s just part of not being complacent and being willing to continue to work.

TSR: Consummate professional, right?

JR: That’s it, buddy.

TSR: Mind if I toss a couple football questions at you?

JR: Let’s do it.

TSR: I’m sure you watch the NFL closer than anybody. What current wide receiver impresses you the most every Sunday?

JR: Probably Andre Johnson. But you have to look at Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, you know…let me think…

TSR: What about Terrell Owens, one of your x-teammates?

JR: I thought you wanted younger guys, okay, yeah – Terrell Owens, Randy Moss all those guys. Those guys are still the big play receivers, you know? (They) are why you pay your money – because you know that those guys are going to put on a good show for you.

Joe MontanaTSR: You’ve won Super Bowls with Joe Montana and Steve Young so you know what it takes for a quarterback to win a championship. What young quarterback – Tony Romo, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, etc. – that hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet is the next to win one in your opinion? What current quarterback is destined to hoist a Super Bowl trophy?

JR: You know what? The next guy? Boy…it could be Joe Flacco from Baltimore with the way he’s playing right now. It could be Donovan McNabb. You know, Eli…well Eli’s won one already, so, you know, we’ll just have to wait and see how (the playoffs) pan out. The ultimate thing is to win the Super Bowl and I think all of those guys have a legitimate shot.

TSR: Besides winning the Super Bowl, what would you call your greatest moment in the NFL? What was your greatest achievement?

JR: (laughs) Oh my God! Probably…oh my God. I would say, uh…just playing with the guys that I had played with. It was never about records to me. So you know, just the relationships that I had built you know, with (Joe) Montana, (Ronnie) Lott, Roger Craig – so many great guys. Then going across the Bay (to Oakland to play with) Tim Brown and so many other great players.

TSR: I always want to ask players this. Was there ever a funny moment, whether it’s on the field, off the field in the huddle, whatever, that you rarely share with the public? Could you share one of those moments to give fans an insight to what your playing days were like?

JR: Joe Montana was always a prankster!

TSR: Was he?

JR: Oh, yeah – Joe Montana did crazy things. He would put Tiger Balm and stuff like that in jocks. Then all of a sudden guys would put their jocks on and they’d get that little burning sensation out there on the field!

TSR: (laughs)

JR: (laughs)

TSR: Did he ever get you?

JR: No, he knew better than that!

TSR: (laughs)

JR: (laughs) But you know, Joe was a prankster…Bill Walsh would walk through the locker room with those tights on, and his sweat towels and his football shoes and stuff like that trying to look like a wide receiver and all that stuff.

TSR: That’s pretty funny, although it’s hard to imagine a legend doing that!

JR: Yeah!

TSR: You played against some of the best defensive backs in the league. Who was the hardest to beat or the best you’ve ever played against?

JR: I had two of them – Darryl Green and Deion Sanders. Those guys were so fast and I had to study them, I had to work them off the line of scrimmage, and I had to be patient. That was always something Bill Walsh wanted us to do – he wanted us to be patient off the line of scrimmage. He wanted us to win at the line so, you know, I had some success against those guys.

TSR: Is there a current defensive back playing now that would fit into Green or Sanders’ mold?

JR: You know what, no, because you don’t have that many cornerbacks that play one on one anymore. It’s because of the (defensive) schemes, so you know, you still have some good defensive backs out there but (Green and Sanders) were going to pretty much be singled up with the best receiver on every team. And their job was to shut that guy down and they were great.

Mike SingletaryTSR: I thought the hire of Mike Singletary was absolutely the right move to get the 49ers headed back in the right direction. What are your thoughts on the hire?

JR: I think it’s fantastic. I think that was the best move the Niners (could make in hiring) Singletary. I also heard that Tom Rathman is going to come back as the running backs coach, so this team is starting to move in the right direction. They have someone (in Singletary) that’s a great leader, will lead them by example and if the players don’t do their jobs, he’s going to let them know it. And if they don’t pick it up, they’re going to be out of there.

TSR: Is coaching in your future, Jerry?

JR: No.

TSR: No? Absolutely not?

JR: (chuckles) Not at all, buddy!

TSR: (laughs)

JR: Hey I have to run, my man.

TSR: Thanks Jerry – I appreciate your time!

JR: You got it – take care.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>