Rice did not take Canton for granted


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Jerry Rice left nothing to chance during his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks.

The all-time receiving leader certainly wasn't banking on enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even if others viewed his candidacy as a no-brainer.

"It means the world because a weight is on your shoulder for so long and you just never know," Rice said after his selection as part of the 2010 class. "I never took it for granted. I'm a very superstitious guy and I didn't think of myself as being a shoo-in."

Rice's face revealed elation even well after his name was announced.

"When my name got called, it was just like when I got drafted by the San Francisco 49ers," he said. "All the emotions hit and like I said, I'm glad to be part of this class. Now I get a chance to say thank you to everyone that played a very important part in my life: my family, my coaches -- high school, college, professionally -- the fans and media because I drew energy from my fans and also from the people who supported me."

Rice became emotional when reflecting on his late father, the late Bill Walsh and the values his parents instilled in him through hard work and old-school discipline. Rice recalled the way his father made him lay bricks as a kid and the hard stares his dad would give him when young Jerry needed to be kept in line. He also admitted that some 49ers teammates initially wondered if he was showboating when he insisted upon taking every reception to the end zone during practices.

"But then it became contagious and Roger Craig started doing it, Brent Jones, and it was all for just getting in position so you could make blocks downfield," Rice said. "If you came to a practice for the San Francisco 49ers, it was just like a game situation."

Rice voiced support for Craig, Charles Haley, Tim Brown and the other former teammates who fell short on Hall of Fame voting.

Brown, one of 15 finalists this year, called Rice and offered congratulations -- on Friday.

"But still, I didn't take it for granted," Rice said. "I think he deserves to be in here, also."