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Lions and Rice - a perfect match?
By PETE LAMONT, MOP Squad Sports Editor-in-Chief
Oct 13, 2004 - 10:44:00 PM

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Today may be Jerry Riceís 42nd birthday, but donít call him an old man.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jerry Rice (80) snags a pass in the fourth quarter of this Nov. 23, 2003 file photo in Kansas City, Mo. Rice believes he could be traded by the Raiders before the Oct. 19, 2004 deadline. Rice, who turns 42 Wednesday, told Sacramento radio station KHTK on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2004 that his days with Oakland may be numbered, and that he wants to play for a team that will better utilize his talents. (Getty)

Now in his 20th season in the NFL, the receiver may not be the same player he was ten years ago, but he feels that he can still contribute on the field to his team.

However, the coaching staff of the Oakland Raiders has moved forward without the star receiver in the offensive scheme: a move that hasnít made Rice very happy in Oakland. Through five games this season, Rice has five receptions for 67 yards and no touchdowns. His NFL record streak of 274 straight games with a catch ended in the second game of the season, a 13-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Rice has appeared frustrated by the situation in Oakland on the sideline during games, and finally spoke out against the situation.

``I can't go out this way,'' Rice said Tuesday. ``If some things had been explained to me before the season started, then maybe the situation would be different now. I want to come back, I want to play next year, and I want to go out the right way. I don't know if I'll be in a Raiders uniform, but I'll be somewhere on the field doing my thing. ...From what I was told, I'd be a significant part and I'd have opportunities and I'd make plays. This is a business, man, and you never know.Ē

Rumors have flown wildly about possible trades for Rice. The most prominent of these rumors have been focused in on the Detroit Lions. Although Raiders team officials deny that anything is in the works, Rice said that he expects to be traded before the deadline October 19th.

The Lions would be an ideal situation for Rice, and it would be a positive move for the Lions, as well.

For starters, Rice is friends with Lions coach Steve Mariucci. The two know each other very well from their many years together in San Francisco. With Mariucciís West Coast Offense, Rice would be stepping into a very familiar situation. With Charles Rogers out for the season with a broken collarbone, Rice would be able to step into a prominent role on the team.

For the Lions, this move would not only solidify the teamís depth a receiver, it would improve the team. What better receiver could Lionsí QB Joey Harrington ask for in a target on offense than the receiver who perfected the West Coast Offense? Also, Rice could serve as a mentor to the Lionsí young gifted receivers, Rogers and Roy Williams. Who better for these young guys to learn from than the greatest receiver of all time?

Rice could provide the final offensive piece of the puzzle for the Lions. Imagine, for a moment, the Lions potential offense. Joey Harrington at QB, Kevin Jones at tailback, Corey Schlesinger at fullback, Rogers, Williams, Rice, Tai Streets & Az Hakim at WR. With so many quality offensive weapons, there would be no team in the league that could outscore them.
Oakland is in a bind with how to handle Rice. Itís been a PR nightmare for the Raiders to see him on the sidelines, not getting into the play. Rice is a competitor. He wants to play. As difficult as it may be to trade away one of the greatest ever to play the game, itís the best answer to the teamís predicament.

In an interview on Sacramento radio station KHTK Tuesday, Rice said ďThe thing is, I know wherever I go, that that team will get something special because I'll give them 100 percent and I'll make plays on the football field to help that team win.''

And 100 percent from this 42-year old could be just what the Lions need.

The Associated Press Conributed to the story


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