Go Long!: My Journey Beyond the Game and the Fame [NOOK Book]


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 ...
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Go Long!: My Journey Beyond the Game and the Fame

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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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As a 13-time All Pro wide receiver, Jerry Rice was known for his "soft hands." But this Football Hall of Famer first developed those receiving skills as a young boy in rural Mississippi, catching bricks as he worked with his father, a mason. Since then, he has demonstrating his surprising versatility as a radio and TV host and as the nimble-footed finalist on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. In Go Long! Rice describes his childhood, his gridiron career (which included three Super Bowl victories), and his post-retirement activities.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345497086
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/16/2007
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 663,507
  • File size: 348 KB

Meet the Author

Jerry Rice attended the Mississippi Valley State University and was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. In his twenty-year football career, he was elected Rookie of the Year (1985), was selected to the Pro Bowl thirteen times, won three Super Bowl rings (and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXIII), and was chosen for the NFL’s 75th Anniversary and All-Time teams. Now a broadcast personality and commentator, he lives in California with his wife and their three children.

Brian Curtis is the author of Every Week a Season and The Men of March, as well as the co-author with Nick Saban of How Good Do You Want to Be? A former reporter for FOX Sports, he is a host and analyst on College Sports Television. He lives in New York with his wife, Tamara, and daughter, Emily.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

Go Long!

My Journey Beyond the Game and the Fame
By Jerry Rice

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2007 Jerry Rice
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345496116

Chapter 1

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 streetsigns, 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. He would whip me and my brothers and my sisters--no one was immune. The beatings hurt so bad that they were a good deterrent to keep us all out of trouble. I remember one evening, when I was about fourteen years old, a few of my brothers and sisters and I snuck out of the house to go to a neighbor's to watch the Jackson Five perform on television. We didn't have a TV but we were big Jackson Five fans. So, despite my father's insistence that we not leave the house, we did. The beatings upon our return left a mark--literally and figuratively. But that's how they did it where and when I grew up. I guess the fear of getting hit by the stick and the intimidating look on my father's face kept pushing me to do the right thing. And it still does.

My mother, Eddie B., was short, a conservative woman with a grand heart who welcomed any and all into our home for lavishly cooked meals. She raised us while my father worked. But despite the economic struggles, I think it's safe to say that my parents did a pretty good job raising all of us, treating us all as equals. On Sundays we would go to the Pinegrove Missionary Baptist Church for services as a family and in the evenings we would sit around the dinner table together. That's just what we did.

My childhood was like that of many young boys--I played sandlot football into the night, read Sports Illustrated under the covers, and bellyached when it was time to get up and go to school. In the summertime and over the holidays, I worked with my father laying bricks for homes and businesses. Bricklaying is demanding, tough work. We would be up at five a.m. and work until sundown. My brothers and I would be the supply chain for my father, who actually laid the brick and mortar onto the structure. It was our job to make sure that the bricks were ready to be laid down and the mortar prepared to be spread. On many occasions, I was the last link between the bricks and my father. My brothers and I would bring the bricks to a worksite and pass them from one to another until handing them to my dad for placing. Often, when my father had moved on to the second floor of a structure, I would balance myself on the scaffolding two stories up and catch bricks that my brothers would throw to me from the ground. (Some like to say that's where my great catching hands for football came from--I'm not so sure. Brick-catching requires hard hands and an aggressive approach; catching a football requires soft hands to cradle. Regardless, the hand-eye coordination had to help me down the road.)

Bricklaying wasn't fun work, but it earned us money, some of which I turned over to my parents to help pay for clothes and groceries. I do remember how anxious I was to make sure there was always a brick and mortar for my father. I didn't want to let him down. Time is money in the bricklaying business, so any slowdown in supply cost my father money. That's a lot of pressure on a teenager. I was afraid to fail. But you know what? Fear of failure isn't always a bad thing. It helped keep me focused on the task. And a fear of failure has carried me through my life.

It's probably a big surprise to many of you that I am so insecure about success. In fact, it took me years to admit that fear is at the root of my performance. It goes against much of what the literature and "gurus" out there insist, that you have to let go of your fear to ever be successful; that you can't be afraid to fail. I don't think that's an absolute. My fear of failing as a child carried over onto the football field in high school and then college. I was so concerned about not being successful that it pushed me to be successful. All of those extra hours in the gym or on the track or on the practice fields were more than just about hard work; they were about avoiding failure. Before every game of my NFL career I was scared--scared to drop the big pass, scared I'd let my teammates down. And now I realize it all goes back to not wanting to disappoint my father.

My parents' parenting proved that hard work and shared responsibility works. There were no slackers among us, as everyone had to pull their weight. Mom and Dad taught us that money is not everything. Mom insisted that love was the only thing we all needed. We went without on many occasions, meaning we didn't have many pairs of pants or shoes. Even a hearty meal at dinnertime was a luxury on many nights.

There were other ways to make money besides bricklaying when I was growing up in Mississippi, and one of those jobs may surprise you. A big revenue stream for business owners down south was agriculture, particularly cotton and corn. To get the goods to the market, the products first had to be picked from the ground. I know what you're thinking: Isn't picking cotton something slaves did? Yes. But I didn't think of it that way. I saw it as a way to buy groceries for my family and some clothes for myself. My siblings worked alongside me in humid heat, picking the corn stalks, baling hay, and yes, picking cotton. I was certainly aware that many blacks in the south had been forced to pick cotton for centuries but that didn't stop me from earning a day's wage. Some of our black friends and neighbors refused to work in the fields and questioned why we were willing to. But to me, it was about earning money, and since we were being paid, I never thought of it as trampling on the memory of our forefathers and mothers and I still don't.

Sure, there was racism in Mississippi. We're talking about the 1960s and 1970s, a time when the civil rights movement was under way but slow to reach parts of America. Yet growing up, I never once experienced racism firsthand. No one called me the N word, no one painted racist slogans on our home or burned a cross on our lawn; we were lucky. But from what family and friends told me, I also knew I probably would get dirty stares if I walked into certain parts of the county that were predominantly white. Maybe it was because of my skin color, maybe because I couldn't afford many of the goods on store shelves in those areas. I did have a few white friends, a few white classmates, but for the most part, blacks surrounded me. There was an area down Route 12 we called the Crossroads, where blacks and whites hung out, but never together, and I did go down there on occasion, but always stayed with the blacks. (Years later, after I made it in the NFL, the whites didn't give me nasty stares when I hung out in "their" area, probably because I wasn't just some black guy from the country.)

One of the more unusual aspects of living out in the country lands of Mississippi was the thrilling and exhausting practice of riding wild horses. But this isn't a Seabiscuit story where you would wake up early morning, walk out to the stable, pat your horse down, and hop on for a dawn ride. No, just getting on the horse was a challenge. You see, the horses ran wild over the countryside, so if you wanted to go for a quick jaunt on top of the animal, you first had to chase it down. And that takes a lot of work and patience. On a good day, it would take me forty-five minutes to an hour to chase down a horse. With no fences and no boundaries, just imagine the size of the pasture we were dealing with. (And when I went riding with friends, we had to chase down the first horse, tie him up or use him to chase down the others, before we actually got to have fun riding!)

My favorite horse I called Pete. Boy, was he fast. He could make quick turns (like a good wide receiver) and his black mane made him easily identifiable. As time went on, I got faster chasing down Pete and the other horses. You would be amazed at what experience teaches you. I realized that it wasn't about being in the spot the horse was; it was about being in the spot the horse was going to be. I began to think one step ahead and it actually slowed down the chase for me.

I loved to play sandlot football or shoot hoops outside on the farm but I was never in love with any one sport and certainly never thought one would be part of my destiny. I remember Fourth of July cookouts and baseball games and I remember the Christmas days when I was given a new football. I never asked for one, I just got them. I'd go outside and toss the ball around with my brothers, but never put much thought into playing the game for real. I did read about and watch guys like the Dallas Cowboys' Drew Pearson and the Pittsburgh Steelers' Lynn Swann. I appreciated how they dominated the game--but I never wanted to be them. I watched our high school team play and was impressed by our quarterback, little man Kent Thomas, who was just five foot eight, but who took command of the huddle and the field, wore his uniform crisp and clean, and earned the respect of his teammates.

My older brothers were my playmates and teammates in our mock games of football or basketball or even the simplest games of skill. Tom and James were tremendous athletes. James could catch, shoot, and hit better than just about anyone I knew--and he was born deaf. To compensate for his handicap, James used his intelligence. Boy, was he smart. But while we did all we could to help him be social, it wasn't enough. So, when I was just ten and James sixteen, we drove up to Jackson, Mississippi, to a school for the deaf and settled James into his new home. We were devastated to leave him behind. But the school turned out to be a great thing, and James soon learned sign language and made all kinds of friends. He would return to Crawford to work with my father in the bricklaying business. Despite not being able to hear or speak, James was a legitimate bricklayer, earning the real money, while most of us--his siblings--were merely helpers.


Excerpted from Go Long! by Jerry Rice Copyright © 2007 by Jerry Rice. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

         Go Long! the beginning of this book Jerry rice tell about h

         Go Long! the beginning of this book Jerry rice tell about his child hood life, he broke everything down in to great detail he was very open about his life in the book.  I felt as a reader that knew him personally after reading the first 20 pages. The first couple of paragraph’s I felt like jerry rice had a lot of random things he talked about  that didn’t have anything to do with he was accreting to the sentences before. The conclusion of the book didn’t really surprise me like I thought it would that’s something that I really dislike, because I always like a shocking ending. 
         Jerry rice was a very kind person in the book, and he always gives reader new level of success at really sky rocket pace. I wish he could show a lot more emotion when he was talking about his accomplishment. To me as the reader he never really took pride in what he accomplished as pro athletic.
        I really learned a big learn after reading this book, because I also play football even those Jerry Rice was a great player. He still suffered some of the some stuff all football players around county suffered   

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013


    This book is a gret book amd it is pretty good for kids to

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013


    I look up rice ball for a food project and this comes up? Wow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2013



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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013


    Tohru walked out. She saw a dog. She walked to it smileing "hello puppy."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013


    Scowls back. And winces in pain. He holds his head.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013



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  • Posted December 3, 2008

    Jerry Rice is the man!!

    I read this book and I was blown away. Jerry Rice was born in Mississippi to Joe and Eddie B. Rice, two native Mississippians. He liked to run in the late afternoons, when the temperatures were still over one-hundred degrees. One day, he decided to play hooky with a couple of friends during school. The principal saw him and Jerry took off running, eventually getting caught by the principal. The principal realized how fast Jerry was and told him he should play football, and thats when young Jerry Rice got started with football. He got recruited by schools like UCLA, USC, and LSU, but decided to go to Mississippi Valley State. What impressed Jerry about that school was the throw- happy offense and the scout that came to watch him play. His senior year, he caught 112 catches for 1,845 yards and 28 touchdowns, setting 18 I-AA records along the way. That enabled him to get drafted in the first round by the San-Francisco 49'ers. There Jerry Rice would end up being one of the best to ever play the game. He ended up catching 1,549 passes for 22,985 yards, and set an NFL record with 195 touchdown catches. In 19 seasons playing in the NFL, he lost only 10 fumbles. If you want to find a book that really inspires you, read this one. It takes you through his whole life, from laying bricks with his dad in the hot Mississippi sun to laying down NFL records. He also teaches you about playing with courage and respect. During his first couple years as a 49'er, everybody doubted him because he was too small and he came from a division 2 school with no competition. He didn't give up though, and he proved the media all wrong. Also he worked profusely at training for Dancing with the Stars, as much as 8 hours a day! Everybody said he couldn't dance at first, but he proved them wrong too by finishing in third place. I would recommend this book to all sports fans, and people wanting to be inspired by a role model.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2007

    Helps to be a Rice fan

    As a life-long 49ers fan I was ecstatic to see that Jerry Rice had finally penned an autobiography. However, although I enjoyed reliving Rice's golden moments of 49er lore and was touched by the descriptions of his wife's near-death experience while giving birth to one of his children, I was not that impressed with his writing style. I know it's a biography, and I know it's about him, but there are moments when I grew tired of his grid iron ego trips as in how some of his teammates from the dynasty era didn't give their all just like he did or didn't have the drive to be the best like he did. Oh, yes, and we all know he's still fuming from coming in second in 'Dancing with the Stars' because he's such the competitor. Is Rice the greatest receiver to play the game? In my book, the answer is an undeniable, yes. But sadly those talents didn't necessarily translate to a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    Yes Sir

    This book is fun and enjoyable. If you like the number 80 as a player and as a person this is your book. It's always great to hear a GREAT players biography.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    I found the book to be enjoyable reading, especially his stories outside of football 'since I was familiar with the on-field events'. I would recommend it to any true fan of #80!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2007

    Athlete + Book = More Boring Sport Cliches

    Remember the boring biography of that popular athlete you read before? Here it is again. In the latest incarnation of the superstar athlete biographies, here is the one about Jerry Rice. This book is more propaganda than anything else. After halfway through it, I decided my time was better left for watching paint dry than finish this collection of sports book cliches. I'm glad I had my receipt to return it. This paints him as Mr. Funloving, which is true when the camera is on. You see the real Jerry if you ask him for an autograph with nobody else around. I guess he is still upset that fans did not choose him to win Dancing With the Stars. What a jerk he turned out to be. For a lifelong fan, I'm glad I saw his true colors. No more #80 stuff in my house. For a guy who makes a living on fans, it was remarkable to see a guy who obviously forgot that. It's too bad I'll never get back the time I spent reading the first half of this book. I hope it does not happen to you.

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    Posted September 3, 2013

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    Posted November 26, 2010

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    Posted January 26, 2012

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    Posted February 13, 2012

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