“Most people, for whatever reason, think natural ability is the most important power a person possesses. It’s not. People who achieve the highest level of success have an unbelievable work ethic, the desire to sacrifice. Everybody thinks Jerry Rice is the best receiver out there. He certainly is talented, but I guarantee you he’s not even close to being the most talented. He’s not the strongest or the fastest. Be he is the most determined. Jerry’s mind set was that nobody was going to work harder, prepare better, or sacrifice more. He convinced himself that he was going to outwork every receiver who came into the league relative to conditioning, lifting, studying — everything. He knew that people might not enjoy the practice, but you can’t get to be the best without.
Everyday during the off-season, Jerry would be up at 6:00 AM going through his strenuous stretching drills. He would run seven 5-yard shuttles, which he called “stop and go’s,” and fourteen more 40-yard dashes up and down the field. Then he would line up fluorescent orange cones across the field and weave in and out of each one six times at full speed, working on his acceleration and cutting ability. When he finished with the cones, he would run six more 40-yard dashes, and then 20-yard patterns until he was flat-out exhausted. Then he would lift weights in as quick a rotation as possible, no resting. Bench presses, seated bench presses, incline bench press, power lifts, dumbbell curls with increasing weights. I get tired just writing about it. It didn’t take me long to understand why every time we got to the fourth quarter of a game, while most of the players were slowing down, Jerry could run as fast as he did on the first play of the game. On the days he trained, Jerry would cap off his physical work with mental work. He would immerse himself in a game film of the league’s top wide receivers, studying how they ran their routes and what moves they used to get open. It was amazing to me how he had so many of the all-time records, and he was still working harder than anybody. It would have been so easy for him to be spending that time relaxing at the mall or on the golf course. But Jerry was sacrificing his leisure time to be considered the greatest wide receiver of all time. The only way was the hard way, he believed. And eventually, even though you may think nobody notices your extra effort, somebody usually does. Your work will pay off tomorrow, a year from now, five years from now, you don’t know when. But it will!”