Hey kids, cut class and you could grow up to be like Jerry Rice
NOV 24, 2013 11:03a ET
So kids, remember today's lesson: Jerry Rice might never have become a Hall of Fame football player if he hadn't cut class.
Whoa, don't kill the messenger. Rice is the one who told the story of how he got into the game as a teen.
"I was just playing hookie one day and I was a sophomore and decided not to go to class. And the principal -- normally he does his rounds and I thought I had him down pretty good where he was going to be -- he sort of walked up behind me and scared me," Rice told Huffington Post in a recent return to his hometown of Crawford, Miss. "He noticed I could run real fast. So that's how I got introduced to football. After I got disciplined I got introduced to football and then after that everything just took off for me."
Well, it wasn't overnight success. Rice's post route to the NFL went through little Mississippi Valley State, where he had to prove himself to scouts. Drafted by the 49ers in 1985, he spent the next 20 season breaking almost every wide receiver record in the NFL.
Rice says he honed his great hands by playing video games. OK, not really, kids. He actually worked alongside his dad as a bricklayer. And it's a lot easier to catch footballs when you grew up with people tossing bricks at you.
"I think with my hands, it was catching a lot of footballs and working with my father during the summer because he would always make me," Rice said. "My father was a bricklayer so I was a helper. My job was to make sure that he had bricks to lay. We used to be on the scaffold where it was 20 feet in the air and my brothers would toss bricks up and I would snatch them out of the air. So that helped with my hand and eye coordination."
And kids, Rice wants to make himself clear: Don't try to follow his example and find your talent while cutting class. Even as his talent was turning legendary, he knew he had to hit the books like he'd never play a down in the NFL.
"I still knew that I had to work hard and hit the books because the opportunity to play in the NFL is not really that big, so I knew I needed something to fall back on," he said. "That's the message I want to send to those kids when I talk to them in person and let them know the most important thing is getting your education."
Jerry Rice Jr. better be listening. The senior receiver at UNLV has all of 10 catches for 73 yards this season. Go to class, Junior.