Sidney Rice has always been a case of a terrific athlete who’s injuries have marred his career. On Wednesday, Rice decided that enough was enough, and decided to call it quits on his NFL career.
Pro Football Talk was the first to report the news of Rice’s retirement, which was announced by his most recent team, the Seattle Seahawks.
Rice, 27, played just two full seasons in his seven years with the Minnesota Vikings and the Seahawks. The latest of those two seasons came in 2012, in which Rice caught 50 passes for 748 yards and seven touchdowns with the Seahawks.
The only year in which he had more catches, yards and touchdowns was in 2009 with the Vikings, in which he earned his only Pro Bowl selection. That year, Rice caught 83 passes for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns with Brett Favre at quarterback. In the Divisional Round of the playoffs, Rice caught six passes for 141 yards and an NFL Playoff record three receiving touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Rice’s career will be best known for injuries more so than anything else. Despite needing surgery for a hip injury suffered in the epic 2010 NFC Championship Game against the eventual Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, Rice held off on surgery until the third preseason game some eight months later, resulting in him missing the first eight games of the 2010 season. He also missed the final game of the season, due to a concussion.
Despite Rice’s injury history, the Seattle Seahawks signed him to a 5 year, $41 million deal before the 2011 season, with $18 million guaranteed. The following season, he missed the final five regular season games with a concussion.
In his final NFL season in 2013, Rice suffered an ACL injury against the St. Louis Rams on a Monday Night Football telecast, in which he played his final NFL game on October 28, 2013. Despite his absence, the Seahawks would go on to win the Super Bowl, and Rice got his first and only ring in his final season.
Rice got released as a cap casualty on February 28, but was re-signed on a one-year deal by the Seahawks in April. Ultimately, that contract will be voided, as Rice is now retired.
At the end of the day, Sydney Rice’s tale will be one of potential greatness thwarted by injuries. Back in his senior year of high school in 2003, Rice caught 77 passes for 1,414 yards and 14 touchdowns, earning South Carolina Offensive Player of the Year honors.
In his redshirt freshman season with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, Rice caught 70 passes for a school record 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns. He scored a touchdown in his first eight games of the season.
In 2006, as a redshirt sophomore, caught 72 passes for 1,090 yards and 10 touchdowns. Against Florida Atlantic, Rice scored five touchdowns, another school record. He finished his college career with 142 catches, 2,233 yards and a school record 23 touchdowns.
Due to his massive success in school, Rice opted to go in to the 2006 NFL Draft, where the Minnesota Vikings selected him 44th overall. Unfortunately, he only got to prove his worth in one of his seasons, while missing 33 games over the course of his career.
At the end of the day, Rice’s decision to retire is clearly the right one. Although his career was marred by injuries, he still managed to play for seven seasons, making a Pro Bowl and winning a Super Bowl over its course.
“My favorite would have to be Thursday the 19th — June 19 and getting the ring,” Rice said to the Seahawk’s website. “That would have to be my favorite moment.”
At the end of the day, there’s no reason for Rice to risk his health any further. The man got a chance to accomplish more than most NFL players, or any athletes for that matter, get a chance to aim for in their entire careers. He made millions of dollars over the process, and he will have memories that he can hopefully cherish for the rest of his life.
Congratulations, Sidney Rice, not only for a great career, but also for making a smart decision that most athletes wouldn’t have the guts or resolve to make, until it was too late.