Game recognizes game.
For Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders, he wanted to make sure that meant going up against Michael Irvin and 49ers legend Jerry Rice, as he mentioned on the "All the Smoke" podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson.
Sanders and Rice had 10 face-to-face meetings, with six of those wins going to Rice. But that didn’t mean Jerry had all of the success.
Sanders was taken by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. By then, Rice had already established himself as one of the top receivers in the game, and had been selected to four Pro Bowls and earned All-Pro honors in the same seasons.
Up to that point after four years in the league, Rice totaled 4,881 yards and 53 total touchdowns.
Sanders wanted to make sure he had his shot, and would even admit losing sleep over an upcoming game against Rice -- but not out of fear.
His rookie year wouldn’t have him getting that much exposure to the "main dog," but Rice made his presence known when it was game time. In two Sanders vs. Rice games that season, the wide receiver combined for six receptions and 112 yards with two touchdowns.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) August 9, 2019
Sanders would have more success down the road, but the ultimate combination came when the duo became teammates and earned Super Bowl rings in 1994 as members of the 49ers.
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We know Rice’s success speaks for itself, but to know Prime Time’s focus was to go up against the best in the game, and defeat him in certain aspects, shows where that competitive nature originated.