Normally I think I’d hold back using such a non-random athlete for the Random Discussion of a Random Athlete, but this is a special occasion. This is the playoffs (and if I was working with the Fox Network I’m sure I’d be obligated to say something like “I live for this!”). In any case, it is the point in the year where certain cold blooded, freakishly talented characters step out of anonymity and into that part of our memories that can (like my DVR) be labeled “un-erasable even at gun point by Kiefer Sutherland.”
“As usual on the night before a game, I was in my hotel room watching television to learn the college scores. It was near midnight and I was beginning to doze off when I heard the sportscaster say, ‘Following this break, we have some incredible highlights of Jerry Rice and the Mississippi Valley State game.’ That caught my attention and I sat up to take a look at this ‘living legend.’”
“Some thought he lacked the really blazing speed we wanted, that he would be no better than 4.6 in the forty (yard dash). What they overlooked—as scouts also did with Dwight Clark–was his ‘functional speed,’ when running with the football.”
This was the genius of Walsh. It’s one reason why, in my opinion, the 49er dynasty of the 1980’s into the early ‘90’s is the most fascinating football team of all time. With Walsh as its architect, they assembled one of the best collections of talent in NFL history. And Jerry Rice, the kid who got good hands from catching bricks, was the best player on the team.