Technology is what separates both the players and fans of today from the ones of the past. Each year tech advancements give both players on the gridiron and fans in the stands advantages that previous generations never thought of. The partnership between Jerry Rice and Intel brings together the two worlds of invaluable football knowledge and the technology of tomorrow in Big Data analytics. In each game, fans are able to look at 20,000 points of data and 90 separate bits of info are tracked on each play by STATS. Want to know how your favorite dome team will play on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field? Intel and STATS let you know that on average dome teams will see their score drop by more than six points when the temperature is below 40 degrees.
All of this info is crucial for fantasy owners looking to get any extra edge possible on their way to bragging rights and pools of money at the end of the season. To find out more about Intel's efforts to help fantasy football owners everywhere and his thoughts on the 2013 NFL season, we caught up with Rice. Find out his top-three quarterbacks of all time, his thoughts on Aldon Smith, and why he's honored when rappers like Lil B reference him in songs.
How did your partnership with Intel come about?
During my time on the field as well as my work as an analyst, I’ve learned to love the flexibility that technology gives us. It helps both players and fans really be smart about the game and make good decisions. That's why I'm part of Intel, one of the brands that is leading the charge as the intersection between sports and technology continues to evolve.
Intel is behind the technology that delivers real-time stats to fans, and is also powering the devices those fans are using to play fantasy football. Big Data is making fantasy football more accessible. You don’t have to be a sports junkie, analyst or pro-athlete to know what’s happening around the league. Thanks to live stats and data, it’s easier than ever to master waivers, trades and lineups using the same tools and information that professional coaches have available.
If you were a fantasy football owner, who would be your first pick?
I got to go with the big dog Megatron, Calvin Johnson, because it’s more of a passer league now and the ball is in the air, so him. Then after him would be Peyton Manning with what he’s doing on the football field.
And how do you feel about people always comparing Megatron to yourself?
You know, I don’t think any player really likes to be compared, because you like to have your own identity. I think he’s humble, he works hard, and he’s gonna try to do everything he can to win football games. And another guy like Larry Fitzgerald, he’s the same way. His work ethic and the time that he puts in is something that you admire and you respect that individual.
My No. 1 pick would be Megatron, Calvin Johnson, because it’s more of a passer league now and the ball is always in the air, so him.
How do you feel about certain fantasy owners that root against their own favorite teams? Say you’re a 49er fan and you have Russell Wilson on your team but you root for the Seahawks in order to get the W in your league.
You know that’s just part of the game. But I think as long as the players are not doing that and doing something to jeopardize the game, then it’s a whole different story. People want to win. And I think with all this data, it’s gonna help them. But still they’re gonna have to make that decision. So they might root for someone they typically don't root for.
If you were in that position what would you do?
But see, I’m one of those guys that played the game. You see what I’m saying? I think it’s okay for the fans to do that and do whatever they want to do to try to win their league.
That's true. What are three quick tips you have for fantasy football owners?
I think with the new data that’s out there you can see how they'll function in cold weather with Big Data. So if you got some games where these players are going to be playing in cold weather, you might want to select certain players who are used to those climates. Other than that, just focus on the guys that are really going to produce every game. Consistency is key. Players that are going to go out there, that you know are going to give 100 percent always. You want someone who wants to win and will give it their all each game.
How do you feel about this year’s 49ers?
The Niners are off to great start right now, but I still think they’re gonna have to win in their division. Seattle has lost just one game and it’s gonna come down to the Niners and Seattle, I think, in the NFC. And then in the AFC I’m thinking it might be Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos taking it. But I think the Niners are—they’re playing okay, but they still need that playmaker. They need that receiver that’s gonna strike fear into the opponent. And hopefully Crabtree can come back and do that.
You’ve always been a clean cut guy off the field—there’s been a lot of controversy with Aldon Smith who’s been a very talented player, but he’s gotten into trouble off the field. If you were to give him some advice, what would you say?
Well, it’s a whole new generation of guys now. It’s so much more different. Before, you had a lot of leaders, veterans, that was on that team. You don’t see that anymore because of free agency, guys bouncing around.
The thing about free agency is that it’s almost like it’s a time clock where owners and the organization are looking forward to getting rid of those veterans. Now, all of a sudden, these guys have no one that can pass that knowledge onto them and try to follow their footsteps. But, you know, [Aldon] is a very talented football player. It’s just unfortunate, some of the things that he has done off the football field, and I think he’s gonna have to answer to it and there’s a good chance we might not see him back on the football field.
That just goes to show you that one bad decision, or a couple bad decisions, can really change your life.
I have heard 'Swag Jerry Rice' before. When I’m referenced like that I’m really caught off guard, but I feel like I have done something that was so exceptional that people want to somehow put me in their song. I sort of have to pinch myself.
There was a lot of controversy last year with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, what did you think about that decision with the way last year ended and how this season is going?
I think at that time Alex Smith was playing his best football. You’re not supposed to lose your job to an injury because he had a concussion. So, he never got the opportunity to come back and get on the football field. I was a little disappointed by that.
I knew that Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback of the future for San Francisco; but I think Alex was playing his best football and he should’ve been the starter. He went onto K.C. right now, he’s undefeated, and I think he was the missing piece for that team.
Who are your top three quarterbacks of all-time?
Come on, you know what I’m gonna say. I got my top two: [Joe] Montana and Steve Young. God, then I guess you got to go with Peyton Manning.
OK. In that order? Montana, Young…
You get referenced in a lot of songs, rap songs…
Yes, you do. There’s this song dedicated to you from a rapper named Lil B. It’s called “Swag Jerry Rice.” Touchdown, touchdown, I think I'm Jerry Rice...
I've heard that! Yeah, I think I’ve heard it before.
How does it feel when you’re referenced by artists like Lil B?
Man, you know what? When I’m referenced [in songs] like that I’m really caught off guard, but I feel like I have done something that was so exceptional that people want to somehow put me in their song. When I hear it, I sort of have to pinch myself. But, also, I feel honored.
I really do. I feel very, very humble about the whole situation because all the hard work that goes into that, and how they’re very creative, so I’m very humble.
You hold dozens and dozens of records. Is there one that means the most to you?
It was never about the records. The thing is, I wanted to win championships. I wanted to be able to touch so many lives, and if you came to a ballgame I wanted you to walk away like “Oh my God, I just witnessed something that was unbelievable." So then that’s really what I focused on. I give all the credit to my teammates for letting me break the records.