Jerry Rice didn’t necessarily become one of football’s most beloved heroes for being the fastest or the strongest guy on the field 100 percent of the time, but for being one of the hardest working and most poignant wide receivers the game has ever known.
Although born in Starkville, Mississippi, the legend grew up just thirty miles over in Crawford, the place to which he credits his triumph as an athlete–a triumph so great that Rice and the entire state of Mississippi were gifted with what’s now officially known as “Jerry Rice Day” this weekend on Friday, September 30th. There was a “Celebrations of Greatness” event to celebrate this honor during the weekend as well. This is an annual event that honors individuals in the state who have demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence.
“This great athlete represents the best of Mississippi,” said Governor Phil Bryant. “Coming from a small town, dedicated himself before he knew it to be something great, realizing that if you work hard, you can do something. I think he’s been a great example for all young men and the young ladies that aspire for greatness, particularly those in Mississippi.”
The state’s dedication to Rice comes on the heels of his controversial tweeting of “All Lives Matter” in response to the recent actions of San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick, who sparked a much-needed dialogue after kneeling for the national anthem in response to police brutality and mistreatment of Blacks in America.
“I think the thing with Colin Kaepernick, it’s not like I didn’t support him because I think he did a great job of bringing recognition to certain things that really need to be talked about in America,” said Rice. “So, it’s not like I was going against him, but [the national anthem] is just something that I have always stood for and I’m going to continue to do that.”
On the reception of his honor and a stellar career that brought it all to be, Rice referenced back to the influence of his hometown on the success he’s experienced as a professional football player.
“I think growing up in a small town, I was hungry,” began Rice. “I kept the same approach once I got to the NFL, collegiate-wise also. I never got to the point where I felt like I had arrived. I was always hungry. I felt like I had to earn that starting job, and I think that was that fear of failure that really pushed me to be the best football player I could possibly be.”