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Jerry Rice enters Hall of Fame
CANTON, OHIO (AP) - Jerry Rice only took forward strides _ very fast ones _ during the best career any NFL receiver had.
As Rice stood onstage Saturday night while being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he at last recognized the need to step back.
“This is finally it,” he said. “There are no more routes to run, no more touchdowns to score, no more records to set. That young boy from Mississippi has finally stopped running.
“Let me stand here and catch my breath.”
The man who took away everyone’s breath during an incredible 20-year career was one of seven NFL greats to enter the shrine as the Class of 2010. It is one of the strongest groups ever inducted, including career rushing leader Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Dick LeBeau, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm and Floyd Little.
Rice holds every important pass-catching record as the game breaker in the West Coast offense for the San Francisco 49ers. Like Smith, he was elected in his first year of eligibility after he became the top target in the pro game’s most dangerous scheme, combining with Joe Montana and then Steve Young to establish marks that might never be broken.
Rice caught 1,549 passes, 400 more than anyone. He gained for 22,895 yards, more than 7,600 ahead of second place. He scored 208 touchdowns, easily shattering the previous record. He made 10 All-Pro teams, was chosen for 13 Pro Bowls, and made receptions in an almost-unimaginable 274 consecutive games.
Yet, he says, at 47, “I still believe in my heart I could play today.”
Looking as fit as any All-Pro today, Rice admits he made one major mistake during that unparalleled career.
“My single regret about my career is I never took the time to enjoy it,” he said. “I was always working.
“I was afraid to fail. The fear of failure is the engine that has driven me my entire life. “The reason they never caught me from behind is because I ran scared. People always are surprised how insecure I was. The doubts, the struggles, is who I am. I wonder if I would have been as successful without them.”
“I can honestly say this is the greatest team I have ever belonged to,” Rice said. “I am truly humbled and honored.”
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