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A footnote, but not an afterthought

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, August 8th, 2010 at 12:25 pm in Oakland Raiders.

For updates on today’s practice session at 3:30 p.m., check my Twitter page.

The three years Jerry Rice spent with the Raiders was a footnote that got reduced to an afterthought in his Hall of Fame speech.

Remove the 243 receptions, 3,286 yards and 18 touchdowns Rice scored with Oakland his career totals would be 1,306 catches, 19,609 yards and 189 touchdowns. That’s still 204 receptions more than Marvin Harrison, 4,401 yards more than Isaac Bruce and 14 more touchdowns than Emmitt Smith, the No. 2 leaders all time in those categories.

I understand why Rice’s induction speech was crafted as it was, with one scant sentence about his Raiders experience and an even longer one later about his “Dancing with the Stars” family.

Play up the Raiders too much and it puts more of a spotlight on the reason he went to Oakland in the first place _ a bitter end to his 49ers tenure which saw Terrell Owens catch 20 passes on his last day in a San Francisco uniform.

Near the end of his career with the team that made him famous, the 49ers didn’t know what to do with Rice. Coaches weren’t sure how to deal with a sullen living legend. Not only were the 49ers 10-22 in his last two seasons, but Rice had become a second wheel behind Owens in 2000, with Owens catching 97 passes for 1,451 yards and 13 touchdowns and Rice with a career-low 10.7 yards per catch and 75 catches, 805 yards and seven touchdowns.

It was Rice’s second straight season below 1,000 yards, he was 38 years old, and he looked at the end of the line.

Instead, the 2001 and 2002 seasons enhanced his legacy, with 83 catches for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns in 2001 and 92 catches for 1,211 yards and seven scores in 2002 _ the last two 1,000-yard seasons of his career. It was an easy call for Al Davis to bring him aboard, given his track record of trying to squeeze the last bit of “greatness” out of great players.

Rather than be a secondary receiver to Owens, Rice was more or less on equal footing with Tim Brown, with whom he shared an interest in golf as well an impeccable manner of dress and style. He had a quarterback in Rich Gannon who revered Rice for his work ethic.

There was coach Jon Gruden, who seemed to understand the insecurities Rice talked about in his induction speech, constantly poking, prodding and cajoling, and always remind Rice that he was the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) and never to forget it. He became the oldest player to score a touchdown in a postseason game with nine catches for 183 yards and a touchdown in a 38-24 wild card win over the Jets.

“I had fun, and that’s why I came here,” Rice said at the time. “I wanted to be a factor, and I wanted to win a championship. You’ve got to save your best performances for when they matter the most.”

He was a key part in the Raiders 2002 AFC championship in an offense opened up by Bill Callahan and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, which was his last season among the elite receivers before finally beginning to show signs of age in 2003.

As it did in San Francisco, it ended badly in Oakland. A consecutive-game streak of 274 games with a catch ended in a 13-10 win over Buffalo, with Rice throwing a fit on the sideline, blaming coach and play-caller Norv Turner and then going to Davis and asking for a trade.

Still, Rice gave the Raiders more production than anyone could have imagined for a player his age, and his Raiders stats alone (243-3,286-17) dwarf those of anyone on the current roster. The receptions are the 10th most in franchise history.

In terms of catches and yards per game, Rice, Brown and Art Powell were the most prolific Raiders receivers.

(Fred Biletnikoff and Cliff Branch played on teams that ran more than they passed, bringing down their per game averages).

Powell averaged 4.535 catches per game from 1963-66, with Rice averaging 4.5 and Brown 4.46. Powell also leads in yards (80.2) followed by Brown (61.9) and Rice (61.4).

In the Canton archives, that might rate more than Dancing with the Stars, but he’s a worthy addition to this year’s Raiders media guide as the 19th player in franchise history to make the Hall of Fame.

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  • http://atm Raider O

    We should all be GMs!! We know everything, we can solve problems, and we have great ideas!! lol
    I love being a football fan, but even more being a Raiders Fan and part of the Only Nation on Earth!! The Raider Nation!!
    Attack & Destroy!!!

  • http://atm Raider O

    Rich,

    Bush was considered a top 10 pick in the 2007 draft before he broke his leg. I don’t think OUR TEAM is using him correctly. He needs to have more carries per game. Look at the TB game, and that will prove out point. He needs more carries!

  • http://atm Raider O

    Later Gents!

  • hendu

    Raider O, got youre point now. Nap is Mac and Wheatly is Bush, move the chains,etc ok,Do you agree that JC will depend on Miller,more so than dhb,lm,chaz ,etc at least early on? I think they may surprise teams with this offense,and the defense, O,I hope it can be Bear85 at some point THIS year!Thats my hope,that the RAIDERS get back to TATUM smash mouth football!

  • buckeyeraider

    ‘Sup fellas?
    Raider O,Rich-O how’s everybody doin?
    Hope we got that Vella store debate squared away.

    All I know is I hope nobody has the audacity to try and shoplift in one of em. Because as Phil V says in the America’s game..you don’t want to make Happy Fella John Vella mad. He WILL rip your frickin’ head off.

    Only a couple of hours till the 2010 season kicks off, fellas.

  • hendu

    post100, thanks Peanut,fyo!

  • MistaBrown

    Besides you and maybe 3 other tools who gives a fk about Jerry Rice ?
    _____

    KoolKell Says:
    August 8th, 2010 at 1:25 pm
    I hope Jerry Rice is not persona non-grata now in Alameda because he didn’t mention Al Davis at his induction speech.

  • buckeyeraider

    Preseason obviously.

    Does anybody scrimmage anymore? The Raiders used to scrimmage the Cowboys when they were in LA. They’d get in some good scrapes. Haven’t seen any highlights of any teams practicing against each other this year.

  • MistaBrown

    I thought Schilens broke his foot against the 49ers in a scrimmage last year.

  • 30 year raider

    WHATS UP OHIO ST BUCKEYE!!!!! yyyyyaaaaaaaa FOOTBALL IS HERE!!!!

  • hendu

    Buckeyeraider, The Raiders have at times had Richochets team in for a scrimmage, the niners,and as you mentioned, the Cowboys. Not sure why they havent this year, probably cuz we play Richochets team in reg season game.

  • buckeyeraider

    I wish the Raiders would’ve practiced with the niners again. After all the shyt SF was talkin last year. Like to shut their pieholes.

    I guess they’ll get a chance later this year.

    Those two teams just do not like each other. I guess you guys know that moreso than me, most of you live right there at ground zero.

    But damn, some of their preseason games have almost playoff-like intensity.

  • 30 year raider

    Does anybody scrimmage anymore? The Raiders used to scrimmage the Cowboys when they were in LA. They’d get in some good scrapes. Haven’t seen any highlights of any teams practicing against each other this year.
    @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

    GOOD QUESTION IDK… I KNOW THAT THE COWGIRLZ AND THE TEXANS DID SOME LAST YEAR.. I DONT KNOW IF WERE GONNA GET IT ON WITH DALLAS AGAIN..

  • buckeyeraider

    ‘Sup 30 Yr.

  • 30 year raider

    D OHIO ST BUCKEYES will be good this year… could be your year!!!

  • pridenpoise831

    who the hell is joe porter?

  • RaiderSam

    We could just get back into Jerry Rice, but these other posts are a lot fun!

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