Living Legends: Where are they now?
Sidney Rice is now a part of a long history of 20 and 30-something millionaire former NFL players now trying their hand at different post-playing career ventures.
Rice had a breakout campaign in 2009 for the Minnesota Vikings teaming up with Brett Farve, but after seven short seasons, his NFL career is over. He played parts of two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks before calling it quits.
The former Gamecocks great announced his retirement last summer, citing a history of concussions.
“I was just thinking about what I’ve been through in the last few years,” Rice said in July on the Seahawks team website. “I’ve hit the ground a number of times. I have quite a few injuries. It’s something I’ve always battled through and come back from.
“But I just figure at this point I have the rest of my life ahead of me and I want to be able to function and do things later down the road.”
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has made Columbia an attractive destination for many lauded in-state recruits. Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney all decided to stay home and suit up for the Gamecocks, and all had stellar careers doing so.
Before there was Jeffery, Lattimore or Clowney, however, Spurrier landed his first big in-state target.
That prospect was Rice.
He quickly made a name for himself inside Williams-Brice Stadium, totaling more than 2,200 receiving yards in two seasons as a starter. Finishing his Gamecocks career with 23 touchdowns, it took him just two seasons to break Sterling Sharpe’s school record for career touchdowns.
Rice debuted in 2007 for the Minnesota Vikings, but the 2009 season with Farve was the most productive of his career. Rice earned his only Pro Bowl appearance helping the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.
Staying healthy proved troublesome for Rice, however, even after Seattle signed him. Spending much of the 2013 season on injured reserve, he mentored key Super Bowl contributors like Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Percy Harvin. He made the decision to retire thinking about the future, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love the game anymore.
“It’s not something I don’t care about anymore,” Rice said. “It’s just being able to enjoy life down the road as much as I can. But I want to help those guys as much as possible, and while they’re playing help them prepare for their future as much as I can.”
He made the decision to stay in the greater Seattle area, but does stay connected to his hometown of Gaffney, S.C. Because he spent much of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl season on IR, he had time to figure out about what the next chapter of his life would be written.
As of last summer, he had opened one Wingstop restaurant in Tacoma, Wash., with plans to open four more around metropolitan Seattle.
“I’m sort of a job creator right now,” Rice said. “What got me into wings? It’s my favorite food. In Minnesota there was no Wingstop. So me and Adrian Peterson, every time we’d have an away game, we’d hop in the car and try to find a Wingstop. So we always talked about opening one.”
Living in the Northwest, however, Rice also ventured into a popular market: technology. He’s in the process of developing several apps and has created Fresh Healthy Vending, a company designed to provide healthy alternatives for school vending machines back in Gaffney.
Rice accomplished his goal. He’d wanted to be a professional athlete since he was a kid. Along the way, he garnered a few school and SEC records, a Pro Bowl appearance and a Super Bowl championship.
His favorite moment as a football player, though?
“My favorite would have to be June 19  and getting the [Super Bowl] ring,” Rice said. “That would have to be my favorite moment.”