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Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

49ers great Jerry Rice reveals the toughest opponents of his career

Apr 2, 2024 at 9:53 AM--

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Jerry Rice is widely acclaimed as the greatest wide receiver in football history. He's faced some tough competition over his Hall of Fame career, playing in an era where the rules didn't benefit the passing game as much as they do today. Still, Rice remembers facing some fierce competition over his illustrious career.

During a recent appearance on the "All Facts No Brakes" podcast, host Keyshawn Johnson asked Rice about his most daunting adversary over his two-decade career.

Rice's response: Deion Sanders.

"The battles that we had back in the day, even when he was with Atlanta and also with Dallas. It was mano a mano," Rice said, per FOX Sports. "And I primed, and I prepared myself for that. All the reps during the week, I wanted to take those reps. I wanted to be able to have a game plan going in. And if you're going to face the best, you'd better have a game plan. I wanted to initiate. I was not gonna wait for him to bring it to me. So I was gonna attack him right from the start, you know, with my route-running, with double moves. Even if it was a running play, I was sprinting 60 yards down the field."

Sanders wasn't the only formidable opponent on Rice's roster of challenging competition. He remembers going head-to-head with another Hall of Fame defensive back.

"But then also Darrell Green," Rice added. "So the real fast guys, you've got to have a plan when you come to the line, and you've got to get them off their base on the snap of the ball. And I think I had the greatest coach ever, Bill Walsh, to always tell me that you've got to win at the line of scrimmage, and I was able to do that."

Throughout his storied career, Rice enjoyed unprecedented success, setting several receiving records that still stand today. His achievements, which are truly remarkable, include winning three Super Bowl championships with the 49ers, earning 10 first-team All-Pro selections, and being selected to the Pro Bowl an impressive 13 times.

Rice's NFL records include the most career receptions (1,549), receiving yards (22,895), and receiving touchdowns (197).

As for Sanders, he transitioned to coaching college football and presently serves as the head coach at Colorado.
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