Oakland - Jerry Rice sat solemnly at the dining table near the rear of the room. One by one, teammates, their family members, team staff and friends strolled by shook hands and chatted with Rice.
The informal salutatory at Sundays post game dinner said it what most had expected for several weeks. Rice was gone!
The mood was naturally solemn, after the Raiders had just been embarrassed soundly by division rival Denver. It was obvious that there was a second reason for sorrow in the room.
One could sense that it was the last supper, the last time that the great Jerry Rice would be present at this teams post game meal and everyone knew it but did not want to admit it.
After three seasons and six games, the greatest reciever of all time was leaving the Raider Nation.
On Tuesday it became official that Rice had been traded to the Seattle Seahawks for future draft considerations.
Rice, the NFLs all-time leading reciever is in his 20th NFL season after having been with the 49ers for 16 seasons and then spending the last three with the Raiders. I really enjoyed playing here, I have a lot of good memories, said Rice.
Even the fans at Sundays game chanted Rices name, knowing that it could be the last time.
Earlier this season against Buffalo Rices 274 consecutive catch game streak had been broken signaling something was wrong.
Against Denvers stingy defense, Terry Collins couldnt even get enough time to throw a single ball Rices way.
The truth of the matter is that the divorce is justified by both parties.
At this point in his career, Rice cannot help the struggling Raiders nor can the Raiders help Rice, given their poor play and continued search for an offensive identity. They were able to amass only 144 total yards against Denver.
When the Raiders reached Superbowl XXXVII in 2002 there were three players on the roster with proven hall of fame accomplishments. Rod Woodson, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice all destined for first ballot selection to the Hall-of-Fame.
Rice is last to leave and will join Mike Holmgren, his old 49er coach. Holmgren coached the 49er quarterbacks from 1986-88 and was offensive coordinator from 1989-91. During that time the 49ers won consecutive Superbowl titles in 1988 and 1989. Rice clipped Joe Montana for MVP honors in Superbowl XXIII by setting a Superbowl receiving record with 11 catches for 215 yards against Cincinnati.
Rice holds a total of 31 NFL combined records for regular season, postseason and Superbowl accomplishments.
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