Rice: "Players Feel Like They Can Do Whatever They Want"

NFL players are different today, Jerry Rice says, and guaranteed money has a lot to do with it

Tiki and Tierney
November 04, 2019 - 6:46 pm

Jerry Rice, perhaps the greatest player in NFL history, played 20 seasons in the league, from 1985 to 2004. In the last decade or so, he has watched a different type of player enter the league. There are similarities between the generations, but there are also differences.

“I think it’s just a new generation now with everything with social media and all of that,” Rice said on Tiki & Tierney. “Baker Mayfield, I heard he had a full beard, then he shaved it down. Then you had Landry and Odell Beckham, they had shoes that they had to change at halftime. I just feel like all of that stuff is a distraction, and when you got that going on, it’s going to take away from your team and it’s going to take that focus away. You’re not going to be able to just pay attention to detail. Social media runs everything now. You see a lot of these guys, they’re on Instagram or they’re on Twitter or something like that. I think it’s a big distraction.”

It’s also, for some players, a fireable offense. The Cleveland Browns cut Jermaine Whitehead on Monday, this after the 26-year-old safety posted violent threats on Twitter. Whitehead threatened former NFL player and current radio analyst Dustin Fox, who criticized Whitehead’s tackling Sunday. The Browns called Whitehead’s posts “totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate behavior.”

Rice, of course, did not have to worry about social media during his playing days. Even if he had, though, coaches likely wouldn’t have been as accepting of social media as they are now.

“Back in the day, they would just walk over to you and just tell you, ‘Hey, look, you better focus on football, or you’re going to be out of here,’” Rice said. “But I think with the contracts now, with all the guaranteed money and stuff like that, the players feel like they can do whatever they want to do and still know that they’re going to be on that football field. We felt like we had to earn that and also be that starter and lead by example – all of that. That came along with it. But it’s just a new generation of guys now. With the contracts, they’re going to be on the field no matter what.”