As if Jerry Rice needed anything else to make 2010 more memorable, the recently inducted Hall of Fame wide receiver was named the No. 1 player of all-time by the NFL Network.
Throughout the season, the League-owned network has been unveiling its Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players, a list determined by a blue-ribbon panel. Thursday night's Top-10 show finally revealed Rice as the man on top of the mountain.
"It caught me by surprise," the 49ers legendary wideout told 49ers.com on Friday. "With me not being a running back or a quarterback, I didn't think I'd be No. 1, but it's all good to be honored like that."
Rice credited his teammates for helping him earn the honor. His two Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young finished as No. 4 and No. 81 respectively on the list. Another teammate, Hall of Fame 49ers safety Ronnie Lott, was ranked 11th.
"Those guys put me in position to break all those records and receive honors like this," Rice said. "I give all the credit to my teammates."
Just like his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, Rice was humbled to be included in the coveted Top 100 list. Being named as the top player was an appropriate ending for a year-long tribute to the greatest receiver to ever play the game of football.
The NFL Network distinction now solidifies his place as the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time.
"It's really been an amazing year starting with the selection process, then the Pro Football Hall of Fame, then having my jersey retired at Candlestick, now this is like the icing on the cake," Rice said.
Besides his honors, Rice spent 2010 making his professional golf debut as well as his role representing the 49ers in London during last week's 2010 International Series, which saw the 49ers defeat the Denver Broncos 24-16.
Despite being in unfamiliar territory, Rice felt at home thanks to the support of a spirited English fan-base, which he deemed ready to have an NFL franchise of its own.
"I felt like a rock star to be honest with you. From the tailgate parties and being around the stadium, the fans loved me for some reason," the three-time Super Bowl champion joked. "I think the knowledge of American football is much better now. It was a great experience I think the NFL can be really big in London."
Rice will continue to watch the 49ers in the second half of the season, whether it's in person or by a TV set.
As passionate as Rice remains about the game of football, he considers himself to be another one of the team's loyal supporters. And just like any of the 49ers Faithful, Rice was pleased by the team's performance in London.
"For us to be the home team and get the victory, it meant a lot," he said. "Watching the offense play good football and move the ball downfield was great to see. The defense stepped up too. Now it's the bye week, hopefully they can get away for a little bit, refocus and turn this thing around."