Potentially the greatest wide receiver the National Football League (NFL) has ever known, Jerry Rice’s net worth of $55 million reflects the success he has had both on and off the field. A retired hall of famer, Rice has remained prolific—and profitable—following his departure from the NFL.
Born in Starkville, Mississippi on October 13, 1962 and growing up primarily in nearby Crawford, Jerry Lee Rice learned the value of hard work, something he’d apply during his storied NFL career, from being one of eight children of a bricklayer, his father often employing his sons as assistants during the difficult summer months. His talent first showed during these same years, proving an effective runner on the dirt road near his family’s house.
In high school, in what many can only call fate, Rice reportedly cut class one day, only to be spotted by the assistant principal. Running away at incredible speed, Rice was eventually punished, but not before the school football coach found out about how fast he’d sprinted away and put the future star on the field as a receiver.
Scouted to Mississippi Valley State University in 1981, Jerry Rice acquired the nickname “World” because he could seemingly catch a ball from anywhere. His stats weren’t taken very seriously because of the poor quality of the conference he played in, but he would still go on to set several NCAA records and boast incredibly impressive catch statistics, culminating in later being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.
So many records eventually caught the attention of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, who traded their first two draft picks for the New England Patriots’ first (sixteenth overall) in order to select Rice before the Dallas Cowboys could. Despite a rocky start (he dropped passes far more often than in college), Jerry Rice would have a strong rookie season, boosting his future net worth. In his second season, he led the NFL in both receiving yards and touchdown receptions, a feat he would repeat five more times over the course of his career. In 1987, despite only playing 12 games due to a players’ strike, Rice received a bevy of awards, including NFL MVP by the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and the Pro Football Writers Association and Offensive Player of the Year, courtesy of the Associated Press.
His finest performance, and likely the one that truly made him a star, came when it mattered most: Super Bowl XXIII against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers won the game 20-16, with Jerry Rice being named MVP, his number of receiving yards and receptions both becoming Super Bowl records. The 49ers would once again make it to the Super Bowl and win the following year, again in large part to Rice’s efforts. The next time they made it to the championship game was Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers in 1995, with the star contributing to the win heavily, despite playing the majority of the game with a separated shoulder—the fact that he kept going with the injury is likely because of what he learned helping his father as a kid.
By the time Jerry Rice retired in 2004 (as a 49er once again, the team signing him just so he could retire where his career started), he had also played for the Oakland Raiders (2001-2004) and the Seattle Seahawks (2004). He ended his NFL tenure with a rare-if-not-unheard-of 20 seasons under his belt, and the net worth to prove it. He also quit the sport holding more than 30 league records, being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Like most athletes, Jerry Rice profited from endorsement deals, including Gatorade, Zaxby’s, Visa, and All Sport. He has also starred in a season of Dancing with the Stars, making it to the final two, and has made appearances in several other films and TV shows, including The Rules of Engagement, The Biggest Loser, and, most recently, Hawaii Five-0. He has also written two books. He is currently the co-host of Sports Sunday, a primetime sports program that airs in the San Francisco area. He even had a video game dedicated to himself and his pet dog!
With a professional football career that nobody has come close to topping yet, Jerry Rice’s net worth is well earned. Hopefully the retired player enjoys his time off and the $55 million he has. He deserves it!