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Football legend Jerry Rice goes pro in another sport

April 13, 2010 | 11:34 am

Rice_300 Bo Jackson did it. Deion Sanders did it. Michael Jordan tried it.

Now NFL legend Jerry Rice is looking to make a name for himself in a second professional sport. After 20 years of playing on his own and in pro-ams, Rice will make his debut as a pro golfer this weekend in a Nationwide Tour event, the Fresh Express Classic at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward.

"I don't want to go out there and have those players who are playing on the Nationwide Tour think this is a publicity stunt for attention. It's not," said Rice, who received sponsor's exemption into the field and will serve as host of the 156-player tournament, with his foundation receiving proceeds.

"I have the opportunity to go out and prove to everybody I can play golf."

The Nationwide Tour operates under the umbrella of the PGA Tour, so Rice could conceivably one day qualify for the senior Champions Tour.

"I can't look down the road that far," said Rice, 47, whose best round is a 68. "I love the game of golf and that would be a dream come true. I'm just getting my feet wet right now. Hopefully, it can build into that."

Rice, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, is the NFL's career receiving and touchdowns leader. More recently, he found success on the dance floor, taking second place on "Dancing with the Stars" in 2006.

Come to think of it, ballroom dancing is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee, which I guess means Rice could become a three-sport success.

Take that, Bo, Deion and MJ!

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Jerry Rice watches his shot during the American Century Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course in Stateline, Nev., in July. Credit: Brad Horn / Associated Press