Not My Job: Football Hall Of Famer Jerry Rice Gets Quizzed On Hannah Montana

Aug 12, 2017
Originally published on August 14, 2017 11:39 am

In the 1980s, quarterback Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers was known as the premier passer in the game. But you wouldn't even know his name if there hadn't been someone on the other end to catch his passes. Most often, that was wide receiver Jerry Rice, and today we've invited the Football Hall of Famer to play a game called "Take a seat, Joe Montana! It's time for Hannah Montana." Three questions for Jerry Rice about that other great Montana — Hannah.

Click the audio link above to see how he does.

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And now the game where we ask stars about things down here on Earth. It's called Not My Job. So in the 1980s, Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers was acclaimed as the premier passer in the game. But if somebody wasn't out there to catch those passes, you would not know that man's name. Most often, it was Jerry Rice, a football Hall of Famer and the greatest wide receiver ever to strap on cleats. Jerry Rice, welcome.


JERRY RICE: Peter, can I...

SAGAL: No, please.

RICE: Excuse me. Can I add something to that, Peter?

SAGAL: By all means.

RICE: Yeah, you know, yeah, the greatest receiver to ever play the game, but I like to think of myself as the greatest player to ever play the game.

SAGAL: OK, forgive me.


RICE: Just joking.

SAGAL: Yeah. That's the hardest job in the field, I think, because you have to concentrate on catching this very fast-moving object coming at you, and - but you also know that as soon as you grab it, if you grab it - what?

RICE: Look at the size of my hands.

SAGAL: (Laughter) You know, when you held them up, you blocked out the light, but...



PAULA POUNDSTONE: He's going to be part of the eclipse.

SAGAL: I've always wondered about...


SAGAL: So I've always wondered about that - that you're out there. And, of course, you're doing this incredibly difficult thing. You have to catch this ball, which is very hard to do, on the run. But you know that as soon as you catch it, somebody's going to try to kill you.

RICE: That's true.

SAGAL: Does that weigh on your mind as you're reaching up to get the ball?

RICE: No, I just run very fast.


SAGAL: Well, let's go back in time. Were you - I assume you were a star athlete growing up, right?

RICE: No, I was a nerd.

SAGAL: Were you really?

RICE: Yeah. I started playing football around my sophomore year in high school.

SAGAL: Really?

RICE: Yeah.

SAGAL: I'm somewhat comforted by that. When you say you were a nerd, what...

ROY BLOUNT JR: Too late.

SAGAL: Yeah, I know.


SAGAL: I was hoping you were going to say early 50s, then I'd be, like, yes, but...


SAGAL: So when you say nerd, what do you mean?

RICE: Very quiet, but I had very large hands.

SAGAL: Right.


RICE: And really skinny. So I would walk around with my hands in my pocket all the time because everybody would notice my hands before they noticed me.

SAGAL: Wait a minute. So you're telling me that, like, you were embarrassed as a kid...

RICE: Yeah.

SAGAL: ...Because your hands were so large.

RICE: They were so big.

SAGAL: And that ended up being the attribute that helped you become the greatest wide receiver...

RICE: Right.

SAGAL: ...Of all time, a Hall of Famer.

RICE: Right.

SAGAL: You are the football equivalent of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.


SAGAL: Think about it. Right? Everybody makes fun of him, and then all of a sudden, they're like, Jerry, will you catch this football tonight? And you're like, I can do that.

RICE: I've never thought of it that way.


RICE: That is amazing.

ALONZO BODDEN: Can I tell you tell that I, too, have incredibly large hands?

SAGAL: Yeah.

BODDEN: It takes more than that to be you.

SAGAL: Yeah.


RICE: Thank you.

SAGAL: I got one last question, which is that often, the wide receivers line up outside toward the sidelines, and you're often right across from the safety or cornerback who's going to be trying to cover you. Is - what passes between you two guys, as you're looking at him, he's looking at you, and you - he knows that he's going to try to stop you, and you know he's not going to? I mean, did you ever - do you ever, like, trash talk or just...

RICE: No, I just look at the defensive back and I say, you done.


SAGAL: All right, Jerry Rice, we've invited you here to play a game we're calling...

BILL KURTIS: Take a Seat, Joe Montana. It's Time for Hannah Montana.


SAGAL: We're talking about that. You formed one of the great offensive tandems with quarterback Joe Montana, so we thought we'd ask you about that other great Montana - Hannah.


SAGAL: You're looking at me with a look of confusion. Do you know who Hannah Montana was?

RICE: I have heard the name.

SAGAL: Hannah Montana, just so you know, was a fictional character played by the - on the Disney Channel - by the very real Miley Cyrus. It was a TV show about a young girl who had a normal life, but her other life was being a pop star named Hannah Montana. That was the plot of the show. So we're going to ask you three questions about that. And if you get two of them right...


SAGAL: ...You will win our prize.

RICE: Are you serious?

SAGAL: I am absolutely serious.


SAGAL: This is so funny because you were talking about your laser stare, your absolute confidence. You are now fidgeting in your chair, looking for an exit. This is...


SAGAL: ...Hilarious.

POUNDSTONE: Those big hands can't help you now, Jerry.


RICE: Yeah, it's getting hot under here, guys.

SAGAL: Bill, who is Jerry Rice playing for?

KURTIS: Luke McEvoy of San Francisco, Calif.


SAGAL: Ready to do this?

RICE: Let's do it.

SAGAL: All right. When Disney was creating the show back then, they considered a bunch of names based on place names, you know, eventually, like, Hannah Montana. They thought of a name - Alexis Texas. Why couldn't they use that one? A, the state of Texas charges royalties for any commercial use of its name; B, cast member Moises Arias had a thick Castilian accent and he pronounced it Alexis Texas or C, Alexis Texas is the name of a well-known adult film star.







RICE: I am good. I am so good.


SAGAL: Yeah, it was C, Alexis Texas. They were afraid what would happen when kid fans of the show were to Google the name Alexis Texas. So it became Hannah Montana. All right.

RICE: So I got that one right.

KURTIS: You bet.

SAGAL: You got that one right, yeah.


SAGAL: All right. Second question. The show "Hannah Montana," which was a big hit - ran for some years - influenced many artists and performers, such as whom? A, actor Eli Roth, who listened to her music to prepare for his role as a stone-cold killer in the movie "Inglourious Basterds" because he said it made him feel insane...


SAGAL: ...B, performance artist Marina Abramovic who, after hearing one Hannah Montana song, conceived of her piece "The Artist Is Present" where she sat in silence for over 700 hours...


SAGAL: ...Or C, Lin-Manuel Miranda, author and composer, who says Hannah's struggles as she tried to become famous inspired the early scenes as Alexander Hamilton...


SAGAL: ...Starts his climb to the top.

RICE: Peter, you know, I've been preparing myself for this all day.

SAGAL: I bet you have - running up and down those hills.

RICE: So you guys are not going to help me out.




SAGAL: They like A...


SAGAL: ...Apparently. Yes, it's A.


SAGAL: Eli Roth - apparently listening to Hannah Montana put him in the mood to beat people to death with a bat. All right.


SAGAL: "Hannah Montana" has a lot of dedicated fans, but some of them may surprise you, like which of these? A, Vice President Mike Pence...


SAGAL: ...Who considers her music, quote, "wholesome but danceable."


SAGAL: ...B, actor Stephen Baldwin, who has Hannah Montana's initials tattooed on his shoulder or C, artist Damien Hirst, who called his installation of a decomposing beef cow The Real Hannah Montana.


SAGAL: If we could weaponize the look of incredulity that Jerry Rice is giving me right now...


RICE: Did you say number two - a tattoo?

SAGAL: I said, Stephen Baldwin, the actor, the answer...

RICE: Wow.

SAGAL: ...Was that he got a tattoo of Hannah - H-M - Hannah Montana's initials on his shoulder. He was so inspired by her.

RICE: OK, such art. So I would say C.

SAGAL: You're going to go C, the - Damien Hirst, the British conceptual artist.


SAGAL: Damien Hirst fans put a decomposing cow in a thing and called it The Real Hannah Montana. I wouldn't put it by him, but it was actually the tattoo. It was Stephen Baldwin. You'll be happy or sad to know that Mr. Baldwin now regrets the tattoo.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Jerry Rice do on our show?

KURTIS: His score was two out of three, and you're a winner. That's a win.


SAGAL: Jerry Rice is a Super Bowl MVP, three-time Super Bowl champ. Jerry recently partnered with the National Kidney Foundation to promote kidney health. Jerry Rice, thank you so much for joining us.


SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill blames it on the tortellini in the Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.