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TRUE COLORS.
June 8, 2001

by Bill Hogan

 

 
 

Jerry Rice in BLACK and SILVER? Why not, the man has to make a living.

In all probability, Rice has a few more good years in him. He was productive last year and there is no reason to believe he won't be productive as a Raider (lining up opposite Tim Brown doesn't hurt, either).

 
 


To the 49'ers management, football is a business. Be it age or the salary cap, they made a business decision to let Rice go.

To Jerry Rice, football is a way of life. A way to make a living. A way to keep alive a dream that is the envy of all of us sportsfans.

This move to black and silver does, however, have an impact on my financial situation, and that bothers me.

My son is a huge Jerry Rice fan. He has Jerry Rice posters, Jerry Rice dolls, Jerry Rice replica helmets and about a half-dozen Jerry Rice jerseys.

They are all red and gold!

My guess is my son will still be a Jerry Rice fan, even with the Raiders. So, what do I do now!

My first inclination is to try to convince an eleven-year-old boy that Jerry Rice will always be a 49'er no matter what uniform he puts on in the next few years. "Wear that red and gold number eighty jersey with pride!"

That might get me through the summer, but come September 9th, when the Raiders and Jerry Rice kick off the season in Kansas City, and a black and silver number eighty catches his first pass, all bets are off.

It's a sure thing that my wife will be racing to the mall that Sunday evening to try and find a black and silver Jerry Rice jersey. And here we go. The Niners save three million dollars, Rice is still making a nice living and the Hogan family is out another $59.99 on old number eighty.

Jerry Rice will enter the Hall of Fame as a 49'er. You know he will always be a 49'er. I know he will always be a 49'er. But, to a kid, red and gold is not black and silver!

* * * * *

O.K., to a die-hard 49'er fan, watching Rice catch touchdown passes across the bay can be devastating.

But lets face it, between you, me and the milkman, who can blame Rice, or any other pro football player for wanting to squeeze out a few more years between the lines.

The accountant that has the rip chord prematurely pulled on her golden parachute isn't going to latch on to another Big Eight firm looking for one last thrill.

Herb at the filling station will go quietly and gladly to the nearest fishing hole after his final day of employment.

I think you would be hard pressed to find a mailman rummaging through the job openings on Monster.com searching for that dream position at Fed Ex or UPS after he's put in his twenty strapped to a mail bag.

Back to the milkman. Show me one that would have to be dragged from the dairy plant kicking and screaming. Pining for one more opportunity to drop off a pound of butter and a dozen eggs on a back porch while Buster the family watchdog lays sleeping a few feet away.

We all work hard to make a living. All the while dreaming of making the big catch in the big game as the crowd roars. For Jerry Rice, that's not a dream, it's a way of life - why would he want to give that up.

* * * * *

There's a good reason why a player must wait five years to get into the Hall of Fame. To give the fans time to forget about these little side trips players like Rice often make on their way to Canton.

When Jerry Rice is inducted, it will be as a 49'er. They'll talk about his Super Bowl MVP award, his five rings, and all the records that nobody will break.

Forty-niner fans will cheer him and remember him, as a forty-niner.

Joe Namath, one of the great quarterbacks of our time, played twelve seasons for the N.Y. Jets, and led them (and the entire AFL) to their first Super Bowl victory in 1969. He is Broadway Joe. He is New York. He will forever be a Jet.

Does ANYONE remember that Broadway's favorite son spent his last year in professional football with the Los Angeles Rams in 1977, backing up Vince Ferragamo? Vince Ferragamo!

Johnny Unitas is the greatest quarterback of all time. (That's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it). You think of three things when you think of Johnny U.: flat-top crew cuts, high-top cleats and the Baltimore Colts.

The fact that he finished his career in San Diego, riding the pines for a team that was 2-11-1 in 1973 doesn't make a single bit of difference in 2001. And it didn't matter in 1979 when he entered the Hall of Fame - proud to be a Baltimore Colt.

So, don't worry 49'er fans. Your day will come again. Jerry Rice will be wearing the old red and gold in Canton. That's how he will be remembered.

As for me, I'm putting those red and gold number eighty jerseys away for safe keeping, so my son will have something to wear when he watches Rice give his induction speech.

I'll be darned if I'm going to run to the mall that day.

*********************

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