My Excuse: An Interview With Jerry Rice

So about a week ago I was contacted by some folks representing Jerry Rice for setting up an interview for the various sites I write for. Needless to say I was ecstatic. As some of you may know I write for two other sites but I'm getting this up here first in a more personal matter with you folks here at Niners Nation. (Personal meaning that I actually know and talk to some of you.) I'll be posting the full interview here but my full experience (ie my more professional post) will likely be included in the Nuggets tomorrow when I get the other article up on the other site I write for.

Basically, Rice is working with Gillette and the NFL to support their Locker Room Giveaway program. Fans can log into NFL.com/LockerRoom and get peeks into designated locker rooms after the game to get a behind the scenes look and get a chance to win some pretty cool stuff. Rice describes it well in the interview and I'll leave it at that.

Needless to say as a huge fan of Jerry for years I was very, very nervous but I feel I did a pretty good job of interviewing him. He called me on my Skype number and I had about twelve minutes with him. I found him to be really laid back and also very, very humble. He didn't overthink or prepare his responses and spoke his mind, and had a lot of admirable things to say about the Hall of Fame and the records he holds.

Still, I think the promotion he's working with is pretty cool and I'm very fortunate to be able to represent the three sites I write for in some capacity and that I was able to interview him. After the jump, I'll post the interview in text form for all of you here. I have the audio but I'm going to cut that up a little more before I do anything with it, considering this interview was intended for write-up purposes.

Enjoy, folks!

Jerry Rice: Hello

Me: Hey there Mr. Rice this is James

Jerry: How you doin'?

Me: Doing alright, how about yourself?

Jerry: I'm doin' alright, what's going on?

Me: Not much, really excited to have you for this interview. I figured I'd kick things off letting you talk a little bit about the promotion with Gillette.

Jerry: Yeah I have partnered with Gillette to support their new Gillette Fusion MVP Locker Room Giveaway. For the remainder of the NFL season fans can log on to NFL.com/LockerRoom to get behind the scenes access to selected NFL locker rooms around the league. So you can see what happens after a ball game, the emotions and all that. You can register to win a trip for two to the 2010 Super Bowl you can also get NFL apparel, the new Gillette Fusion MVP razor and you know this is another way the NFL and Gillete are bringing fans closer to the game and this is my team and you know, I'm glad to be a part of it.

Me: Sounds like some really cool stuff , I figured I'd get some questions about your own experiences in the locker room.

Jerry: It's like, yeah man you know after a game you gonna get so many emotions. You're gonna have the highs and the lows, and like I said, it's gonna be selected locker rooms and you're gonna get a chance to almost be a part of it and I think it's great what Gillete and the NFL are doing.

Me: What with the 49ers recent tough loss in Seattle I was wondering if you could share any of your own experiences following a big, tough loss.

Jerry: Yeah, I was really looking at that game, it was a really tough game for them.

Me: Yeah, it was.

Jerry: They had opportunities to win that game and uh, you know I was saying to myself this is a perfect scenario you know. This team is 5-6, if they win this football game they can be .500, 6-6, and looking forward to this big Monday Night Game with the Arizona Cardinals. So you know after everything was starting to really, uh, matchup just the right way but they ended up losing that game. But, you know, I see a lot of promise in this team. I think with, uh, Alex Smith, he played well during the football game, in a crucial situation he was able to move the ball down the field and had a chance to win the game

Me: There are some who were saying that Smith's turnaround may be the reason Singletary keeps his job this offseason.

Jerry: Ah, no, I don't think Singletary is going anywhere.

Me: Oh me neither, I certainly hope not.

Jerry: Yeah because, I feel, from what he's trying to do with this ball team, they have shown flashes. You know, but they got to be able to finish, that's the most important thing. They have been in ballgames, lost some close ballgames, but you have to be able to finish. And I think this team is only a couple players away, defensive guys, I feel they got the linebackers, and the guys on the defensive line, maybe get some more guys in the secondary that's gonna help help them. And on offense you look at the running backs you've got Coffee, you've got Gore, tight end Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree, and these guys who are gonna get the job done outside. And you probably have the quarterback that you want in Alex Smith because he has shown significant improvement.

Me: What do you think would have been the best thing for coach Singletary to say to the team after that game just to keep the spirits in the locker room from being... completely desolate?

Jerry: Well he's just gotta keep driving home that "Hey we've got to be able to finish." That's the most important thing and uh, you know a couple dropped balls here, and that's gonna end up costing you. A couple penalties, and that's gonna end up costing you. So uh, just keep saying that to the guys and stay positive and hopefully they can come back Monday Night and win against the Cardinals.

Me: That would definitely be big. I'm gonna change topic a little bit here, I was wondering if you had any interest in a broadcasting career outside of the Sports Sunday show that you do?

Jerry: (laughs) Uh, I really enjoy what I do what I do with channel 11 NBC, it's a lot of fun because it gives me a chance to go in there, have fun, let my hair down, well I don't have hair now, but I have a great time doin' it. And I was with Sirius radio for awhile but I'm a little bit, I'm totally opposite, you know Steve Young is doing a great job and all that...

Me: Oh yeah.

Jerry: ...But I'm one of those guys, I'm more of a cameo guy. I can go in, I like a little bit of flavor, a little bit of everything and I'm spreading myself all over the place.

Me: This is the first year you're eligible for the Hall of Fame, what are your thoughts on that?

Jerry: I'm very very excited about that, Man. If I get in, if I get selected in January then I think everything is gonna become a reality, then I get a chance to start and preparing and getting all the rooms together in Canton. It's funny because it's like the same scenario when you play away games, you got family coming to the game, you know, you're trying to get the rooms all situated like the Super Bowl, it's going to be the same thing in Canton where I get a chance to say thank you to all the fans who inspired me to go out there and play my best football.

Me: When you were a player, was getting into the Hall of Fame always a goal for you or was it not really something you thought about on say, a daily basis while playing?

Jerry: It was not something I thought about, I'm gonna be honest with you. I wasn't thinking about all the records. The main thing for me was I wanted to have myself in position where I could go out and compete at my best. And uh, I was very fortunate to have a very good supporting cast around me. Because without those guys I wouldn't have had as much success on the football field. So it's not I think about the records and the Hall of Fame, it was just that I played a game that I really loved playing and I just left everything on the football field.

Me: How do you feel about Roger Craig and his chances? Last year was the first time he made it as a semi-finalist.

Jerry: You know I think Roger and his trademark high knee action and the way he took punishment and all of that, the way he ran the ball it was unbelievable. I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and hopefully he gets that opportunity.

Me: Well the talk around is that you're pretty much as close to a shoe-in as you can get.

Jerry: I never, I just like.. When I was up for the draft. People all around me were saying "You gonna get drafted, you gonna get drafted." I never gave into that, so I'm not gonna say I'm a shoe-in, if I could get in, it's gonna be great to be able, you know like I said to say thank you to everybody who helped me to get in that position and uh, the most important is being able to acknowledge all the Hall of Famers, the guys who made football what it is today and be part of a very elite club.

Me: Couple more questions here, are there any receivers in the game today you think that could touch those records of yours?

Jerry: There's ALWAYS a chance of someone you know, stepping their game up and taking it to the next level. Uh, you look at Larry Fitzgerald, and I know Marvin Harrison, you know he's not playing anymore but I thought he was gonna be in the hunt. Terrel Owens, he's starting to have some big games. Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne and you know, we got a little young buck right here, Michael Crabtree uh which, if he gets that supporting cast around him there's no telling what he can accomplish.

Me: No offense to you but for the sake of the current 49ers I'm really hoping he takes a shot at those records.

Jerry: You know what man, records are meant to be broken but there's a sacrifice you have to make. Unless you're willing to make that sacrifice and still, you still have to have that supporting cast. You know I had a lot of great players around me, and it's a team sport. It's not an individual sport. I wish him luck but you know, he's gonna have to, sacrifice and work his butt off.

Me: Have you got a chance to watch him a lot this season? You know he had such a stellar college career and definitely 49ers fans were spoiled by you, so he has some pretty big shoes to fill with the tenth selection, what are your thoughts on him?

Jerry: I think he's doing what's asked of him right now. You know he's making plays, but you have to realize the guy missed over, I think 70 days before he stepped back onto the football field. This year is just probably trying to get acclimated and get everything under his belt. And hopefully next year he can come back and play better. But you know, big guy who can make catches. Can catch the ball over the middle. The part of the game that I wanna see is, we know that he has a big body, he can jump up and make the catch in the end zone. I wanna see him be able to catch the short pass and be elusive and go for six. So, that's probably part of the game where it's gonna come and a part of the game that he's gonna have to work on.

Me: Well that's what everybody's hoping. That's all the questions I have for you is there anything else you wanted to say about the promotion for the fans?

Jerry: Yeah just go to NFL.com/LockerRoom and it's all the information you'll need.

Me: Alright, thank you. It's been a real pleasure.

Jerry: Take care.

...Wow is all I have to say, it felt to me more like an extended conversation than anything. I was very nervous in the beginning of the interview but after the initial "hey" it was more or less just me talking football with Jerry Rice--which was just a great experience for me. Now, I did the interview with intent to do a writeup as I just have but I figured I can upload one or two clips here of Rice talking. I haven't went through and edited these and went through noise reduction and all of that, so the quality is less than what I'd release as official interview material.

"They have shown flashes..." in which Rice talks about how this team may just be a couple players away from being something really special, I figured you guys would like to hear this one straight from him since it's what us fans need to do--look ahead to what we can do this offseason to take this team from losing games by 3-4 points to winning those games in clutch situations.

So there you have it, folks. That's my excuse for missing an edition or two of the Golden Nuggets, an interview with the greatest wide receiver to play the game.

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