Thursday, July 9, 2009

ESPN show on Jerry Rice: From dirt to paydirt

There are times I have been as hard on ESPN as Rush Limbaugh on liberals, but “Homecoming” with former Sports Illustrated senior writer Rick Reilly hits a home run with me.

I watched Jerry Rice’s “Homecoming” the other night on the Mothership Station. It was taped about two months ago at the Great America Theater, a block over from the 49ers’ headquarters in Santa Clara. The show was funny and revealing. It was sports’ version of the old TV show “This Is Your Life” from the 50s and 60s.

It was a one-hour examination of Rice’s life before and after football and it included never-before-told stories that either Reilly or his crack staff had researched. It included appearances from family, friends and former teammates such as Steve Young, Eddie DeBartolo and Dwight Clark.

But the biggest surprise – and best story – came from Jackie Rice, Jerry’s ex-wife. They divorced about two years ago but she had the class to show up for the show and gave us the funniest image. We all know how meticulous Rice was and may still be about everything he did in football – from the way he played it to the way to the way he trained for it to the way he even dressed for it – but Jackie offered a tale of how Jerry used to clean their floors the day before home games.

“He’d vacuum the carpet and the lines had to line up,” said Jackie, drawing a big laugh from the audience and a big smile from Jerry.

Jackie, I'm sure, could have really embarrassed Jerry with some other stories but she told one that reflects his incredible work ethic and unique character in a way that so many of us can understand on a human level. The guy could score touchdowns and clean the house!

So when Rice is inducted into Canton with the Class of 2010, he will have completed a classic career with a new twist: From Hoover to the Hall of Fame.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home