A call from Jerry Rice is enough to cause excitement even in the sports-jaded Eagletarian household. When Eagletarian's 14-year-old son realized who was talking to his dad on the speakerphone Wednesday evening, he started texting his friends with the news. Sadly, Rice was blocking the caller I.D. -- you don't get to be the greatest receiver of all time without developing slick moves.
Actually, the original idea was to talk to Rice before writing the DeSean Jackson story that appeared in Tuesday's Daily News, but that didn't work out. Still, late was better than never. Rice and Jackson are clients of DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment, and Rice worked out with the youngster from Cal as he prepared for last month's draft, which saw him taken by the Eagles in the second round.
Rice said that even at Jackson's current 5-10, 175, he doesn't think the rookie will get jammed at the line by a lot of NFL corners, for one reason -- they might get their hands on him and disrupt him, once, twice, three times, but sooner or later, they won't, and with 4.35 speed, Jackson can make a lone mistake fatal. Rice feels Jackson's speed will eventually back people off.
Jackson acknowledged that some of his time with Rice was spent talking about off-the-field matters, including the perception at Cal that Jackson's father and his large family were not always positive influences. Rice spoke about that as well.
"You have to grow up and be your own man," Rice said. "He has to do what's in his best interests now. The main focus now is helping the Philadelphia Eagles out, being the best football player he can possibly be. He wants to go out there and prove himself. He's excellent at route-running. He has confidence in his hands. He's fast, he's going to have the opportunity to touch the football on punts also, so he's going to have lots of opportunities to do something special with the football.
"DeSean knows he has to do what's in the best interests of him and the Philadelphia Eagles, and he's going to do that."
Asked for a good NFL comparison to Jackson, Rice said: "Devin Hester, as a punt returner, but (Jackson is) more advanced as a receiver."
Rice said he felt Jackson's hands were underrated.
"I love the way he catches the football," Rice said. "He doesn't cradle the ball or anything. He can catch the ball on the move. If the ball is low, he can just catch it and continue to run."