Thursday, October 13, 2005

When Rumors Become Reality

It was the during the ESPY awards that I heard the wildest rumor. I don't know if you can call it a rumor if it came from the person that it was about. Anyhow, it was during a very bad year for the San Francisco 49ers. The only thing that legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice had to look forward to in February of 2000... a nomination as Male Athlete of the Decade. Rice had begun contract talks with the team after his first healthy season since he was a rookie that he had less than 1000 yards (830.) Talks about him going to other teams were circulating but easily dismissed.

Anyhow, a friend of mine named John that worked with me was able to assist Mr. Rice as he departed the premises. As they were walking, he asked him, "Any chance you might go play across the bay?" The future Hall Of Fame wide receiver stopped walking for a moment, turned and looked at him enthusiastically and replied, "You know... I'd love to catch balls with Tim Brown!" It was quick and positive, leaving John with the giddy feeling that next year, Jerry Rice would be an Oakland Raider. But, that didn't happen. Rice would have less receiving yards in 2000 with the team as teammate Terrell Owens would jump from 754 yards to 1451 yards and become the 'go-to-guy.'

Rice did wind up going to Oakland the next year after many believed he had 'lost a step' which upset many 49er fans that wanted him to retire with the team then. I was pretty astonished to think that maybe there was a little something in what he said to John that day about playing across the bay. Did something he said to Jerry create an intrigue into the idea? His career rebounded the next two seasons with 1139 yards and 1211 yards as he played along-side the player ranked right behind him in all-time receiving yards. Although he has retired, I still remember looking at John that day like he was on crack when he gave me what I expected was just another bad rumor.


LoraLoo said...

I have respect for Jerry Rice, even if he WAS a 49er. It was probably an excellent move to Oakland, as I think the 49ers would have let him slip into obscurity.

Unknown said...

Letting Rice go was the harbinger of the slide of the Niners into mediocrity.