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A 9er Forever - By Bryan Hersh

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Jerry Rice is a 49er. I don’t care what jersey he wears, he is, was and forever will be a 49er. As a huge Rice fan, this season has been quite sentimental to me. I don’t like the Raiders, but my distaste for them was never quite as bad as those who actually live across the bay from Oakland and Los Angeles. And then this season happened. The Raiders failed to help Rice continue his streak of consecutive catches. They lied to him too, and well I just don’t think you treat people like that, especially when that person is Jerry Rice.

The trade from the Raiders to the Seahawks swelled emotion in me. Heck it dominated the San Francisco sports headlines, head and shoulders above the 49ers. Should we be surprised? Absolutely not. Jerry Rice is a 49er. He is, Mr. San Francisco – only now he’s operating by correspondence. This should be a good move for Jerry. Re-uniting with Mike Holmgren, the two should be able to work together to strike a nice balance between getting Rice the ball, and getting the team into and through the playoffs.

I think the amazing thing about Jerry Rice, I mean aside from him still playing football at 42 years old, is that I can say “Jerry Rice is the best receiver to ever play the game” and will not even be challenged to quantify the statement. Rice really is that good. Any other player, even Joe Montana there is debate, there are others in that ‘league’ but with Rice, you do not have to mention the 1000+ receptions 200+ touchdowns etc. Everyone just knows that Rice is the best. Now I could say Rice is the best player ever, and perhaps there would be debate there, but even Bill Walsh agrees that if he is not the best player ever, he is in the top three.

Jerry Rice to me is more than just an amazing 49ers receiver. He is a role model, he is the epitome of what it means to be a hard worker, he is a great person, and deserves better than what the Raiders did to him this season. In Seattle Rice will not be the go to guy. He will be the second string receiver, and even that could drop, but he will see the football, he will have an opportunity to play, and to contribute. He will be there to try and take the Seahawks to the next level.

Regardless of the outcome of Rice’s season, I expect him to try and play one more year. I expect some team, maybe the Seahawks, maybe not to ‘buy into’ Rice for one farewell season (unless he wins a Super Bowl this year). Some say Rice should have quit before last season, or even earlier, but I respect his desire to play. I respect that Rice wants to keep playing. I respect that his desire is still there, and I do think he can contribute. I am also confident that Rice will know when he can no longer contribute, and at that point he will hang up his cleats, and step aside. If we are lucky, he will not leave the football world altogether. Maybe he will coach or commentate, but if he disappears altogether, the NFL will be worse off simply because Jerry Rice, for the first time in over 20 years will be missing.

 
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