Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports

Tony Tomsic-USA TODAY Sports

49ers history: Boos from fans, pep talk from Joe Montana motivated Jerry Rice to be great

Jul 10, 2020 at 12:40 PM--

Jerry Rice finished his career with 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards with 197 touchdowns. All are NFL records that will likely stand for a long time. He is the greatest receiver ever to play the game. It is difficult even to contemplate anyone ever trying to debate that.

During Rice's rookie season in 1985, however, he looked like anything but a future Hall of Famer who would one day be considered a player with some of the surest hands in the history of the game. Rice discussed overcoming some early NFL adversity during the now two-year-old "Breaking Ground" documentary that first aired during Black History Month in 2018, and was recently shared again on

"I think the reason I was so hungry is it was that fear of failure that pushed me," Rice said. "... Things didn't go well that first year. It's because I was dropping footballs. Then the (home) fans started booing me. Yeah, I have gone into hostile environments and all that, and I have been booed, but this was a different type of booing, and it just caught me off guard.

"I remember one game, I just went to the locker room, and I just started crying like a baby. It got so bad that I just started to question myself. But my teammates, they picked me up because I remember (Joe) Montana coming by. He said, 'Look, Jerry, we see it every day in practice how you prepare, how hard you work, the incredible catches, how you run your routes. It's going to come.'"

So Rice pushed forward, and his work ethic became legendary. He went on to win three Super Bowl championships with San Francisco, was named the Super Bowl XXIII MVP, was a 10-time first-team All-Pro, and a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, including 11 consecutive selections from 1986 through 1996.

"With 20 years of playing, I have learned never let someone tell you that you can't do a certain thing," Rice added. "You don't know what's going to happen. It's not written in stone.

"Nothing is given to you. You have to work for it. You're going to have some tough times, and you're going to have to be able to fight through it."

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