SAN FRANCISCO – Jerry Rice’s No. 80 now hangs from the upper deck at Candlestick Park alongside all the other San Francisco 49ers greats.
Rice appreciated getting to say goodbye to all the people and fans who meant so much.
Rice’s jersey was retired at halftime Monday night, when the Niners hosted the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
The Hall of Fame wide receiver – known for his tireless work ethic even in the late stages of his career – played the first 16 of his 21 NFL seasons in San Francisco (1985-2000).
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” Rice said. “This brings closure to everything. This is where it started, this is where it ends.”
Fans chanted “Jerry! Jerry!” for much of the night. Rice served as an honorary team captain and was formally presented with his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring.
Rice sprinted out from one end zone to midfield and greeted the officials. The captains from both teams joined him. Afterward, Rice walked the sideline and smiled and waved to cheering fans.
Rice’s former quarterbacks and fellow Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young attended, as did several other former teammates and coaches.
“When you get something like that, it’s not an individual thing,” Rice said. “It’s about all the players and coaches beside me that made it happen.”