Jerry Rice to join ESPN: 'I need to be part of a team again'
Posted 2h 8m agoComments0Jerry Rice, who'll be formally announced as a new ESPN NFL analyst Wednesday, explains his motive: "I need to be part of a team again, just like when I played football."
Before the Hall of Famer ended his 20-year NFL career after the 2004 seas
on, Rice didn't consider TV work. "I was committed to being the best player I could be, with all my energy going towards that. And I thought wouldn't want to be around football anymore. Now, I'm getting that itch again."
Superstars like Rice, who had 197 career touchdowns, often get free passes to go straight to the broadcast booth. "I had opportunities but brushed them aside," said Rice Tuesday. "I wanted to be totally committed if I did it, not just get by and get a paycheck."
But after stints on local TV in San Francisco, on the BBC's NFL coverage and on Sirius XM NFL Radio, he now figures broadcasting still isn't "something that's going to be natural. But I'll give it 100%."
As he did when he was a runner-up on ABC's Dancing with theStars in 2006. He says he didn't do it to raise his public profile — "at first I said, 'No way I'm putting on a pair of dancing shoes, having been a macho football player'" — and some NFL players were incredulous he did it. Says Rice: "I did because it was challenging. For me, it was harder than football because I was a fish out of water."
Rice will appear on various ESPN shows including Audibles on Thursday nights, where he'll reunite with his old San Francisco 49er teammate Steve Young — "and I can bring that playful side out of Steve."
As ESPN keeps adding NFL analysts — its rookies this season will also include ex-coach Eric Mangini and former players Hugh Douglas and Damien Woody— it will have its analysts more frequently appear on various different shows, rather than being assigned to one or two.
And ESPN is looking at making at least one more big-name roster audition. ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys says ex-coach Bill Parcells is still "likely" to be added as an analyst, primarily to appear on big-event coverage like the the postseason and NFL Draft and making occasional regular-season appearances rather than taking on a weekly schedule.