From the Sandbox
By Sanders Lightfoot
10/20/2004 11:25 AM EST
Courtesy of http://www.sportsinsights.com
OJ in a 49’er uniform. Willie Mays “chasing down” fly balls in Shea Stadium. Martina Navratalova touring the World Team Tennis circuit. Pedro Martinez in the post-season. Each example of an aging superstar failing to come to grips with his own mortality is more painful than the next. It’s like watching a Three Stooges reunion featuring only Shemp and Joe.
There was supposed to be something different about Jerry Rice’s twilight years. After all, he did end up in the one place that is socially acceptable for an over-the-hill future Hall of Famer to end his career. For years, Oakland has been the convalescent home for some of professional football’s greatest aging superstars. It’s the Ellis Island of the NFL. A place where the tired, the poor, the huddled masses…ok, ok, maybe not the poor, but you understand what your future holds when you sign with Al Davis’ Raiders.
You understand that in no uncertain terms you are being granted the ability to extend your career and avoid the elephant graveyard that is professional athlete retirement. What you are not being granted is the ability to demand more touches and a bigger role in the offense, especially when you are 42 years old. Even if you are Jerry Rice.
The truth of the matter is that someone should have given Jerry Rice the memo from 1997 that said he was not the player he was in 1987. Please do not get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for Jerry Rice and his abilities. His present abilities, past abilities and future abilities, but there comes a time in every professional athlete’s career that he must choose the road less traveled. It’s just too bad that Jerry thinks that road leads to Seattle.
Apparently, Jerry knew his days in Oakland were numbered. I think it may have had something to do with his statement, “My days in Oakland are numbered.”
Even before the trade with the Seahawks was official, there were reports that some of the younger Raider players were getting autographed memorabilia from Rice. It was a very touching and emotional time; the time between Rice actually signing the autographs and the players actually putting the merchandise up for auction on E-Bay.
Well Jerry, you have made your choice. While I truly believe you will have as much success finding happiness in Seattle as I have in finding love on RussianLadyFriends.com, I wish you luck. Hopefully, that old saying will ring true: The road to Super Bowl defeat at the hands of the Patriots runs through Seattle.
With Major League Baseball attempting to go head-to-head with the NFL this past Sunday, I can not help but pose this week’s freaklently asked questions to the powers that be in the MLB:
Exactly who is watching these baseball games that are still on at 1 AM on a weeknight? Are they the same people who are still watching Monday night football well into Tuesday? If so, isn’t it reasonable to think that they do not have to get up for anything on Wednesday?
“Can’t we stop calling the Red Sox/Yankees series a “rivalry” until the Red Sox actually win something?” Aren’t you tired of hearing that yet?
By the way, who’s playing in the National League Championship series?
Boston has two Super Bowl Rings in the last three years, so why do we feel so sorry for them?
Don’t you find it odd that the NFL will cancel it’s Sunday Night Football game out of respect for the World Series, but continue to schedule the Bengals on Monday Night Football without any respect for the fans?
Because they’re there, this week’s picks, pans and props:
Pick of the Week: Tennessee (+6.5) over Minnesota because the Titans are not that bad and the Vikings are not that good.
Pan: Any televised sporting event that starts more than five minutes after its scheduled start time.
Prop: The Republican Party will win the Presidential Election (-150). Hey, I’m apolitical, but if the Democrats were going to bury Bush, don’t you think they would have done it by now.
Props: To my good friends Dan and Kira. Congratulations on your recent nuptials. Does anyone know if swim trunks are an appropriate wedding gift?
Sanders Lightfoot, author and columnist, appears courtesy of 100 Proof Publishing and Sports Insights. Email your questions, comments and concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org