Jerry Rice was not the most innately talented receiver to play in the NFL.

Not the fastest.

Not the tallest.

Not the strongest.

He wasn’t groomed at the finest college football program by the finest coaches.

But he did have an unending work ethic that allowed him to leave the game as the greatest receiver of all-time—and probably the best player of the modern era.

Sure, it helped that he had one of the greatest coaches, two of the all-time great quarterbacks, and starred on a team of stars. But that alone doesn’t produce a Jerry Rice.

Hard work, a commitment to excellence, and an uncanny ability to shine on the biggest of occasions does. Running the best routes, having the surest hands, being the quickest off the line, perfecting every movement and read—and managing to do it all at the highest levels for years and years and years—that’s what makes you a Jerry Rice.

Today, Rice was selected to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His inclusion on the first ballot was about the safest bet you could make. But it wasn’t a sure thing when he was drafted. That’s where the hard work came in.

Congrats, Jerry.