When you think of Super Bowl excellence, Mississippi Valley State University and San Francisco 49ers star, Jerry Rice comes to mind.
Rice holds the Super Bowl record for most catches (33), yards receiving (589), touchdowns (eight), total yards (604), most touchdowns in a game (three) and most yards in a game (215).
SMH….I know, sick, right?
You can make the argument that Rice is the greatest football player in the history of the National Football League.
However, let’s not forget his roots.
Rice was a first-round draft pick (16th overall) by San Francisco out of Mississippi Valley State University, located in itty bitty, Itta Beena, Miss.
Some wondered about the 49ers decision to draft a kid out of a small school, which played so-called ‘inferior’ competition.
However, Rice came into the NFL locked and loaded. At MSVU, he played in coach Archie ‘Gunslinger’ Cooley’s high-tech, high-flying offense: ‘The Satellite Express’.
Cooley does not get the credit deserved for his offensive innovations.
Always in his signature cowboy hat, The ‘Gunslinger’ took on all comers. He was a brash, fast talking, and trash talking personality, who felt his team was unstoppable.
But, as Muhammad Ali said, “It ain’t bragging’ if you can back it up.”
Cooley’s offensive system was literally years ahead of its time, and defenses simply didn’t know what to do. The ‘Satellite Express’ of the ‘80s, is the ‘Spread’ offense of today.
Mississippi Valley’s Delta Devils ran a five-receiver, no-huddle offense that dictated the pace of play.
Cooley, who learned his offensive philosophy playing and coaching under John Merritt, and offensive guru, Alvin Coleman, believed pushing the ball downfield was the easiest way, and the best way to score.
At MVSU, he had the talent to do it.
Quarterback Willie ‘Satellite’ Totten was the pilot of this incredible aerial attack, and his main target was Jerry ‘World’ Rice. Rice got the nickname ‘World’ because there was not a pass in the world he couldn’t catch.
And the stats back that up. At MVSU Rice caught 301 passes, gained 4,693-yards, and scored 50 touchdowns. All of those were NCAA records at the time, and Totten set more than 50 NCAA records during his career, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Of course, Rice was just getting started. Those numbers don’t compare to his NFL career. Rice holds every major receiving record in history. Receptions: 1549. Yards: 22,895. Touchdowns: 197.
And to think, some scouts felt Rice’s college numbers were exaggerated because of the so called ‘level of competition’, and Cooley’s ‘fad’ offense.
Of course, they were dead wrong. Rice is the best receiver ever, and arguably the best player ever, and versions of Cooley’s offense are now being used at every level of football.
Just remember, as you watch Denver’s Peyton Manning and Carolina’s Cam Newton running their offense today, they each got a little ‘Gunslinger’ in their systems.