SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Jerry Rice signed a one-day contract to retire with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, officially ending the receiver's career back where it began.
Rice, who played the first 16 of his 20 NFL seasons with San Francisco, shed no tears during a short signing ceremony at the 49ers' training complex. The receiver wore his ring from the 49ers' 1989 Super Bowl championship team on a chain around his neck as he hugged his wife, Jackie, and shook hands with San Francisco owner John York.
"I would like to put the uniform on and run on that football field, but I think it's time to move on," Rice said, gesturing toward the practice fields behind him. "I feel like this is my home, and this is something I'll never forget."
Rice, who will turn 44 in October, hasn't played since leaving the Broncos' training camp before last season, holding his first retirement news conference last September in Denver. He spent three seasons in Oakland after leaving the 49ers, then played a final year with the Seattle Seahawks.
But San Francisco fans still remember Rice in his incredible prime, when he made most of his 197 touchdown receptions while playing for several powerhouse teams and three Super Bowl winners. Rice holds NFL records with 1,549 receptions for 22,895 yards, and also holds the top single-season marks of 1,848 yards and 22 touchdowns.
"This is where I got my start," Rice said. "This is where my legacy is at ... and this is where I'm going to end it."
The 49ers will honor Rice again during a game against the Seahawks on Nov. 19 at Candlestick Park, and his No. 80 is expected to be retired in the near future. Rice joked that he might have waited even longer for this ceremony, but Bill Walsh, his former coach, encouraged him to get going.
"He wants to introduce me into the Hall, and he said he's going to pass away," Rice said.
INSIDE THE CAREER
Jerry Rice, approaching his 44th birthday in October, spent 20 seasons in the NFL and played for three Super Bowl winners. A look at the wide receiver's career:
receptions: 1,549 *
receiving yards: 22,895 *
receiving TDs: 197 *
total TDs: 208 *
* NFL record
- Rice was the MVP of Super Bowl XXIII as San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 20-16 in 1989. He also played for the 49ers when they won titles in 1985 and 1990.
- In 1995, Rice rolled up an NFL single-season record 1,848 receiving yards in San Francisco.
- In 1987, Rice had an NFL single-season record 22 receiving touchdowns.