At Fresno State University, Ellard was a late bloomer. He got comfortable with his role and blossomed as both a scintillating punt returner and a receiver with big-play capability. He set national records his senior season and enhanced his athleticism by becoming one of the greatest triple jumpers in U.S. track and field history. His nickname was “Grasshopper,” because he could could hop, skip and jump as far as anyone in the world. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams; for years, he continued his concurrent jumping career and even held the world record for a brief time.
Success in the NFL came late. He first made his mark as a thrilling, shifty and elusive punt returner then established himself as one of the best deep threats as a wide-out. Years of excellence for several teams ensued, each standout season characterized by his growing precision as a route-runner and his evolving leadership skills. Ellard’s practice habits were exemplary and provided a great example for fellow receivers. Late in his career, he rehabilitated from a severe hamstring injury and topped most of his previous achievements, after many thought his career was finished. It seemed the older he got, the better he became.
Acclaimed All-Pro defensive back Deion Sanders said Ellard was the best receiver he ever faced. A team trainer said his mental strength and ability to focus on an objective was exceeded only by all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky. At retirement, Ellard was 3rd all-time in yardage and 4th all-time in receptions, and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice said that Ellard came the closest to matching his feats. Today, Ellard is a respected NFL assistant coach who teaches that patience, persistence, and dedicated practice pave the path of greatness.
From October 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com