Football legend Jerry Rice used a discredited talking point to ask San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to end his protest of the national anthem.
Rice, a Hall of Fame wide receiver who spent the bulk of his career on the 49ers, began a tweet about Kaepernick on Monday night with the phrase “all lives matter.” He then asked the NFL player to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” so as not to “disrespect the Flag.”
Rice’s record-breaking season at Mississippi Valley caught the attention of many NFL scouts, but his speed (reportedly only 4.6 in the 40-yard dash) kept most wary, although there were apparently at least two exceptions: the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. In his autobiography, Rice says the Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, and Indianapolis Colts had kept in contact with him prior to the draft. In the first round of the 1985 NFL draft, Dallas had the 17th selection and San Francisco had the last (as Super Bowl champions from 1984). 49ers coach Bill Walsh reportedly sought Rice after watching highlights of Rice the Saturday night before San Francisco was to play the Houston Oilers on October 21, 1984. On draft day (April 30, 1985), the 49ers traded its first two picks for New England’s first-round choice, the 16th selection overall (the teams also swapped third-round picks as part of the deal), and selected Rice before, as some report, the Cowboys were intending to pick him. Rice was prized more highly by the USFL, as he was the #1 pick overall in that short-lived league’s 1985 draft.
But he wasn’t out of work long; Kelly is now leading the 49ers, an offense that somehow ranked below the Eagles in 2015 (Philly finished 26th, according to Football Outsiders, San Francisco was 28th). And if three preseason games are any indication, a lot of work remains. In fact, it’s so bad that 49ers legend and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice can hardly stand to watch.
Although he struggled at times (dropping numerous passes), Rice impressed the NFL in his rookie season for the 49ers in 1985, especially after a 10-catch, 241-yard game against the Los Angeles Rams in December. For that rookie season, he recorded 49 catches for 927 yards, averaging 18.9 yards per catch and was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year. (Eddie Brown of the Cincinnati Bengals, one of the two wide receivers taken ahead of Rice, was named the NFL Rookie of the Year.) The following season, he caught 86 passes for a league-leading 1,570 yards and 15 touchdowns. It was the first of six seasons in which Rice would lead the NFL in receiving yards and touchdown receptions. In 1987, he was named the NFL’s MVP by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and the Pro Football Writers Association (PFWA) and the Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press (AP). Despite playing in only 12 games that year (NFL players strike), he still managed to gain 1,078 receiving yards and an NFL-record 22 touchdown receptions which stood until 2007 when it was broken by Randy Moss (with Moss catching 23 touchdowns in 16 games). In 1987, the runner-up to Rice in touchdown receptions was Philadelphia Eagles receiver Mike Quick with 11. This marked the first time in post NFL-AFL merger history that a category leader doubled the total of his nearest competitor.
“I think Pandora’s Box is open and I’m very happy that it is,” he said. “For a couple of generations, it was about making money, not messing with your image. So the money came into the culture and created a couple of generations of individuals who did not want to speak up.”
Former San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice didn’t quite express the same level of support. In a message posted to his Twitter account Monday night, Rice publicly blasted Kaepernick for “disrespecting the flag.”