ESPN hires Rice as NFL analyst

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ESPN has hauled in the NFL's greatest receiver.

The network has hired Jerry Rice as an analyst, has learned. The formal announcement will be made later this week.

Rice will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter and ESPN's Audibles show, which will air weekly this fall on Thursday nights. On Audibles, Rice will be reunited with his former Niners quarterback Steve Young. He is scheduled to start at ESPN on Sept. 15 and will be based on the West Coast.

The Hall of Famer's sports media experience includes co-hosting Sports Sunday on NBC Bay Area after 49ers games last season. He has served as an analyst for BBC Television's coverage of the NFL and co-hosted an afternoon show on Sirius NFL Radio.

Rice is the NFL's all-time leader with 208 touchdowns, 1,549 receptions and 22,895 receiving yards. He was chosen by the NFL Network as the greatest player in league history.

His hire is the latest -- and by far the biggest name -- in a flurry of NFL moves by ESPN this month. The additions of ex-players Hugh Douglas and Damien Woody and former Browns and Jets coach Eric Mangini were announced last week.

Mangini's hire created the most chatter given his reputation for restricting press access. He is scheduled to start on Aug. 17 and will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, First Take and ESPN Radio. Mangini, at least, recognized the irony of his hire in a statement released last week by ESPN's PR department.

"I am excited to join the ESPN team for the upcoming season," Mangini said. "With my reputation for access and ease with the media, it seems like a natural fit. ... As for my new role, I have been preparing diligently, by picking out tribal tattoos for my lower leg and doing triple shots of espresso to match Herm Edwards' energy level."