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Friday, August 6, 2010

Jerry Rice -- My Favorite Memory

Posted By on Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Gracias, Jerry
  • Gracias, Jerry
With Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers fans had it all. The best player with the best work ethic playing for the best team. It was, well, the best.

Rice will be inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame tomorrow. But for your humble narrator, utter the words "Jerry Rice" and a very distinct memory comes up.

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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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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