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Jerry Rice becomes newest Oakland Raider

The Associated Press
Wednesday June 06, 2001

ALAMEDA — Jerry Rice put on the silver and black for the first time and couldn’t help but admire himself. 

“I look good in it, man,” the NFL’s most prolific receiver said as he donned a new uniform for the first time in 16 seasons. 

After a record-breaking career across San Francisco Bay with the 49ers, Rice ended months of speculation about his future Tuesday by joining the Oakland Raiders. 

“This is a beginning for me, and I hope this is going to jump-start my career all over again,” he said. 

Rice, a 12-time Pro Bowl selection who won three Super Bowls in San Francisco, was released by the 49ers Monday because of salary cap problems. 

On Tuesday morning, he caught a few passes from Pro Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon during an informal workout and took a moment to boast about his new uniform. 

“I hope it didn’t go over the wrong way,” he said, “because I just stood there and said, ‘Hey guys, look at me! I look good!”’ 

Later in the day, dressed in a black suit and sporting his trademark smile, Rice spoke at a news conference with Oakland coach Jon Gruden. 

“I’m not saying that I have to be the main guy, you know,” Rice said. “What I want to do is just come in here and do what I’ve been doing my entire career. That’s basically just being a little kid out there on the football field and doing something I love.” 

His contract with the Raiders was not disclosed, but it was believed to be up to a four-year deal that keeps Rice near his family and his new 15,000-square-foot mansion in Atherton. 

It also keeps Rice close to his fans, who might not like the idea of their hero leaving the 49ers’ family for the rough-and-tumble Raiders across the bay. 

“I think as long as I’m out there giving 100 percent on the football field, I have a chance at winning a lot of hearts,” Rice said. 

Noticeably missing from Tuesday’s workout was veteran Tim Brown, the Raiders’ marquee receiver for more than a decade. The session was voluntary, and Rice did not take offense at his new teammate’s absence. 

“I know what type of person he is, and I’m sure he’s behind me 100 percent,” Rice said. 

Still, questions remain about how Brown and Rice will mesh in the same offense. They have similar styles, and Gruden said their roles have not been determined. 

There also is the matter of Andre Rison, who joined the Raiders last August and helped them reach the AFC title game. Rison, who complemented Brown and fellow Raiders receiver James Jett, had not been re-signed by the Raiders as of Tuesday. 

“My initial thought is that it doesn’t look good for Andre,” cornerback Charles Woodson said. 

Even if Rison does return to the Raiders, there’s no telling how he would fit in with Brown and Rice: “It depends on those guys and their egos, you know what I mean? Those are three future Hall of Famers,” Woodson said. 

Although Gruden said talks continue with Rison, he quickly turned the conversation back to the Raiders’ newest star. 

The 38-year-old Rice holds league records with 1,281 receptions and 187 touchdowns. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1987 and 1993 and the Super Bowl MVP in 1989. 

He has amassed 19,247 yards receiving, including at least one catch in his last 225 games, another record. 

Rice also holds records with 176 touchdowns on pass receptions; 12 seasons with more than 1,000 yards receiving; 1,848 yards receiving in a single season; and 22 touchdown receptions in a single season. 

Rice becomes the latest San Francisco great who will spend the twilight years of his career with the Raiders and owner Al Davis, who often clashed with the 49ers during the tenure of former San Francisco GM Carmen Policy. 

Over the years, the Raiders have lured Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig, Tom Rathman, Marquez Pope and others into the silver and black. Oakland signed Charlie Garner, the 49ers’ leading rusher the past two seasons, to a four-year contract in April. 

“He’s going to raise the quality of our play, no question.” 

” Garner said. 

Although it is expected that Rice will play two more seasons before retiring, on Tuesday he wouldn’t rule out sticking around a little longer. 

“I can see myself on a cane – still trying to run that go route,” he said.