Rice’s departure from the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” was reported by Matt Yoder of AwfulAnnouncing.com. According to an ESPN spokesperson, the decision to part ways was “mutual” between the two parties.
The former San Francisco 49ers great joined ESPN in August 2011—seven years after his retirement from the NFL in 2004. He stated his reason for joining the network as an analyst came as part of his need to be in a competitive, team-oriented environment.
“I need to be part of a team again, just like when I played football,” Rice said.
Rice worked both coasts with the network, providing analysis in the Bay Area and at ESPN’s home branch in Bristol, Connecticut.
While ESPN claims the departure was mutual, the question remains: Is Rice tired of working in the media, or is the media tired of working with Rice?
He was never a huge on-camera presence at ESPN, and given the amount of NFL analysts with strong personalities the network employs, it was easy for him to seem lost in the shuffle. Rice's biggest/most controversial moment came in his response to Randy Moss' claim that he was the "best wide receiver to ever play the game."
As a 20-year veteran who holds nearly ever wide receiver record worth mentioning, however, Rice has a job in sports media for life if he wants it.
Possible homes for him could include NFL Network or the Fox Sports Network, the latter of which appears to be hungry for former ESPN talent. Fox Sports 1 plucked Erin Andrews from ESPN in 2012 after her contract expired. They have even been making moves to cut into ESPN’s dominant slice of the televised sports media pie.
We’ll have to wait and see what Jerry’s next move will be, though it’s not crazy to think the player who won it all and has all the records might just want to hang up the ear mic and enjoy some solitude.
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