DENVER (AP) -- Unwilling to be a bit player with the Broncos, Jerry Rice
retired Monday, closing a 20-year career for the most productive receiver in NFL history.
Rice, 42, made his decision over the weekend at home in San Francisco, then returned to Broncos headquarters and met with coach Mike Shanahan. He played 20 NFL seasons.
``This is a happy day,'' he said. ``I think the tears that you see basically is that I have really enjoyed this ride.''
Shanahan confirmed what Rice already knew -- that he would be a fourth or fifth receiver, at best this season -- and Rice confirmed what many figured -- that he would rather call it quits than be a bit player with the Broncos.
Rice signed with Denver over the summer, reuniting with Shanahan, who was his offensive coordinator in the 1990s in San Francisco. For Rice, the idea was to play for a coach who was familiar with him and for a team that could help him go out a winner.
Shanahan made it clear he would not promise Rice anything, not even a roster spot. Behind the scenes, though, Shanahan said he knew it would never come down to him having to cut the league's best all-time receiver: He figured if Rice knew it was time to go, he would step aside himself.
Early in training camp, Rice moved into Denver's third receiver spot and things looked promising. In retrospect, the promotion was more a reflection on Darius Watts
, who struggled catching the ball, but improved as the preseason went on.
By the time preseason ended, Rice had only four catches for 24 yards and had been pushed back down the depth chart. As expected, he wasn't released when the Broncos announced their final round of cuts Saturday, but he was already in the Bay Area deciding his future.
His agent, Jim Steiner, has said if Rice retired this time, he would not try to come back with another team. If that's so, Rice will close his career with 38 NFL records, including those for career receptions (1,549), yards receiving (22,895) and touchdowns receiving (197).