NFL Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice says he didn’t eat or sleep before Super Bowls — he worked out into the night then stayed awake simulating plays

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Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice celebrates a touchdown during Super Bowl XXIV against the Denver Broncos on January 28, 1990 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. San Francisco won 55-10.Rich Pilling/Diamond Images via Getty Images

  • NFL Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice played in and won three Super Bowls from 1988-95.

  • But Rice says he never ate or slept the day leading up to those games.

  • He stayed up the night before mentally preparing, and fasted to keep his weight down for the game.

Jerry Rice is recognized as one of the greatest Super Bowl performers in NFL history, but his pre-game routine for the big game went against the grain of conventional football preparation.

Speaking to Insider this week, the Hall-of-Fame wide receiver said he never slept the night before a Super Bowl and never ate anything the day leading up to the game.

His goal, he said, was to get to as low a weight as possible — ideally 189 lbs — to be lighter on the field, and to mentally prepare by staying awake simulating plays.

Rice, 59, played in three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers from 1988-95 and won all three. He also played in Super Bowl XXXVII with the Oakland Raiders in 2002 at the age of 40.

Research suggests that skipping meals and rest before something as physically demanding as a football game could severely hinder performance, affecting focus, risking injury, and long-term health.

But Rice insists he never felt the side effects of hunger or sleep deprivation, and he is convinced his unorthodox routine worked to his advantage. He still holds the records for most career catches (33), receiving yards (589), and receiving touchdowns (eight) in Super Bowls 15 years after his retirement.

“I pretty much just trained myself to do that,” Rice told Insider during an interview to promote his partnership with Marriot Bonvoy’s 2021-22 Super Bowl packages.

Rice fasted and worked out before the game in an attempt to keep his weight down

Rice said he wanted to keep his weight down so he could stay light on his feet, which kept him from eating anything the day leading up to the games and even led him to do extra workouts before the game.

“I’m one of those active guys that catch on the move a lot so I didn’t want anything to weigh me down,” Rice said. “I always had a target weight. If my target weight was 189 lbs and I was 192, I would work out the night before to get down to 189, because I felt that if I was at my target weight I could run all day and there was no way anyone was going to be able to keep up with me.”

Working out on an empty stomach comes with risks, especially if the workout is as intense and prolonged as a three-hour football game. It can cause a person to feel lethargic or light-headed during the workout due to low blood sugar.

Evidence suggests that fasting to lose weight is risky and can be ineffective, too.

Still, Rice insists it worked for him and only helped his endurance and energy levels.

“It was important to me because that was my target weight I wanted to go into that ball game and be able to run all day, and I had the endurance,” he said. “I didn’t have to have food or anything like that, I conditioned my body to function at a certain level.”

Jerry Rice catch

Jerry Rice runs the ball during Super Bowl XVIII against the Cincinnati Bengals on 22 January 1989 at the Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida.Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images

Rice stayed up the night before each Super Bowl — but one time he passed out in the locker room before the game

Rice said the 49ers planned out their first 15 offensive plays the night before each Super Bowl. After that, he stayed up the rest of the night simulating those plays in his head.

“So I’m up looking at those 15 plays and I’m processing the opportunities I’m going to have,” Rice said. “So I pretty much already know what was going to happen during that ball game when my number is called.”

Sleep deprivation can affect a person’s ability to process information and make decisions. It also leads to faster physical fatigue. This could hinder an athlete’s performance, especially in a sport like a football where mental endurance is critical.

While Rice insists his sleepless night was a secret to his success, he says it almost crept up on him before Super Bowl XXIII in 1990.

On the day of the game, he briefly fell asleep on a locker room table after putting his equipment on.

“I could hear my teammates walking by and they would be like ‘what is going on with Jerry? This is the Super Bowl and he’s asleep!’ But I didn’t sleep the night before because I was up processing and playing the game over and over,” Rice said.

Rice went on to win Super Bowl MVP in that game with a historic 215 receiving-yard game — a Super Bowl record that still stands today.

Read the original article on Insider

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