Jerry Rice has been called the best pro football player ever. In spite of Rice's legendary gridiron skills, or even his ability to transform himself into an instant ballroom-dance prodigy on ABC's hit TV series Dancing with the Stars, the surprising fact is, a guy like Jerry Rice is made and not just born. In Go Long! Rice shares the inspirational lessons and empowering practices that have helped him attain success, both on the football field and off. Through the ups and downs of Rice's life and incomparable career, we discover how self-motivation, determination, and humility are the keys to achievement and true fulfillment.
It's been a long journey for Jerry Rice, from his childhood in Starkville, Mississippi, to a certain berth in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a kid, he was always working toward something, even if he wasn't sure what it was. Rice honed his hand-eye coordination by catching airborne bricks tossed by his siblings while on the job with their bricklayer father, and he ran-everywhere. From these humble beginnings, Rice blazed a path to greatness in college and the NFL-a trip that was fueled by tireless effort and belief in a few simple principles, among them that achievement is a voyage, not a destination; that modesty and perseverance, not talent, are what determine how far you will go; and that everyone should strive to be a role model. Rice even demonstrates these rules in action, breaking down the greatest games from his stellar career.
Go Long! is an inspiring book by a living sports legend. More than that, however, it is the story of how Jerry Rice awakened the champion within, illustration how we can unlock the greatness within ourselves.
From the Hardcover edition.
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January 16, 2007
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Excerpt from Go Long! by Brian Curtis
Way Down South
Most of the time, I'd run late in the afternoon. The temperature would still be over one hundred in the summertime despite the sleepy sun. Wearing my one pair of sneakers and a ragged shirt and shorts, I'd grab a small towel from my mother before heading out. Out the front door and into the country. The roads were dirt-covered, as there was no pavement where we lived. I'd run and kick dirt off my heels as I passed our neighbors' houses and waved to passersby. Being in the sticks of Mississippi meant "neighbors" could be miles apart. As cars passed me, the tires spewed up dirt all over my face and clothes as I made my way around the seven-mile or so circular journey. With sweat running profusely down my face, the towel came in handy, but in the last mile or so, when my body was aching, I'd often throw it to the side. When I returned home to our house in the country, life--as I knew it--picked up again.
Close your eyes and imagine a small town in the Deep South. A certain picture probably pops up: dirt roads, pickup trucks, hot sweaty August days. Whether you have visited the area, or simply recall a small southern town from a movie, your image is probably close to reality. Now picture that same small town much, much smaller. That's the best way to introduce my hometown of Crawford, Mississippi. There are no stoplights, very few street signs, a few broken-down sidewalks, and not that many people--somewhere between five hundred and a thousand back when I was growing up. But not only were we small in numbers, it seemed like we were all distant cousins. Everyone knew everyone else, and everyone old enough to be a parent was a parent to all the kids. You couldn't get away with much.
I was the sixth of eight kids born to Joe and Eddie B. Rice, two native Mississippians. There were my older siblings, Eddie Dean, Joe, Tom, Jimmy, and James, and my younger ones, Loistine and Zebedee. We were a big family, but close. I shared a bedroom with three of my brothers, so sometimes we were too close! We lived on seven acres in a house that my father built with his own hands, about thirty minutes outside of the "town" of Crawford. So you can imagine just how far out we lived. There was thigh-high brush, swampland, wild horses, and dirt roads, not to mention the nearly triple-digit weather most days. We had a few neighbors "within calling distance," as my mother would say, including my grandparents. I was a true southern boy from the sticks.
My father, Joe, stood six feet, and weighed maybe 280 pounds. He was the provider for the family and the rule-maker, and oh, how we all followed the rules. My father was intimidating and could be mean--very mean--but in the way he thought was right. Life was hard and he believed it was his job to prepare us for it. His intimidating scowl and raised voice would scare a common man, let alone a group of children. Occasionally, I saw a different side to my dad, a side that rarely raised its head. He loved to fish, and I would tag along on the hour-long walk to a nearby lake where he would stake his spot and search for catfish. He was relaxed on the lake and took joy in snaring a big one. But he didn't fish that often, which meant most of the time, my "other" dad was in control.
His hands were crusty from so many days out in the Mississippi sun building homes, laying bricks, brick by brick, day after day, all year long; sometimes he'd work two or three different jobs to get money.
In the South close to thirty years ago, affection wasn't shown much between parents and children, or even between parents. When it was time to be tough, my father could be tough. If one of us did something wrong, my father would instruct us to go into the backyard and pick a stick--a stick he would then use to beat us on our behinds and back, to teach us a lesson or two. Sometimes he pulled out a large leather belt and whipped us good. The extension cord hurt as well.