It was Sept. 11, 1988. The Niners were in the swamps of Jersey playing the hated New York Giants (for some reason, Phil Simms' towheaded locks and goofy smile just made me seethe).
My father and I were glumly driving through San Francisco late in a losing effort -- if memory serves, the two-minute warning had already come and gone. San Francisco trailed, 17-13, and was deep into its own territory. I recall we were on I-80, heading away from the bridge. How I can remember exactly where we were will soon become apparent -- thanks to Jerry Rice.
It was not a happy ride in the car. Your humble narrator is the child of New Yorkers, and the Giants of the 1980s vintage were particularly loathed in our household (with the obvious exception of Joe Morris. Who couldn't like Joe Morris?). It was just as my dad was about to click off the radio that it happened.
Joe Montana lofted a pass down the sideline to Rice who, typically, stretched a medium reception into a glorious long touchdown. Seventy-eight yards, according to the box score. Forty-Niners 20, Giants 17. Ballgame.
It was bedlam in our car. Dad and I screamed and danced and hugged -- and never stopped driving. And here's what I'll never forget: When I looked at the other cars on the highway, their occupants were screaming and dancing and celebrating too. They saw us, we saw them. And we celebrated some more.
The 49ers would go on to win the Super Bowl that year -- perhaps the best and most dramatic Super Bowl of all time. But, for your humble narrator, the sharpest, sweetest memory was a moment of unexpected bliss on I-80, courtesy of one Jerry Rice.
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