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Crossing The Bay

Wide receiver Jerry Rice spent 16 record-breaking seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. One day after being cut in a salary-cap move, the future Pro Football Hall of Famer signed with Oakland on June 5, 2001.

The Raiders reportedly will pay Rice $1.4 milllion in 2001 and $1.5 in 2002. Although his new deal is for four years, Jim Steiner, Rice's agent, told reporters that both sides are committed to two years.

Rice, 38, took part in a voluntary team workout on his first day as a Raider. Afterward, he put on a happy face at a news conference announcing his signing.

"I'm living a dream here right now," said Rice, who holds 14 NFL regular-season records and 10 Super Bowl records. "A situation like this doesn't happen that often. I've been in the league 16 years and then to come to a team of this magnitude, I'm excited about the possibilities."

Rice's acquisition could signal the departure of fan-favorite Andre Rison, an unrestricted free agent who caught 41 passes for 606 yards and six touchdowns with Oakland last season. Rice wore uniform No. 80 in his first practice with his new team, the same number jersey Rison donned with the Raiders in 2000.

Speaking at Rice's news conference, Oakland coach Jon Gruden was noncommittal on the possibility of Rison re-signing.

"We've been in contract with Andre," Gruden said. "I'm not going to speculate or make any comments that I can't back up ... We'll stay on top of his situation."

Rice (right) holds NFL records with 1,281 catches and 187 touchdowns. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 1987 and 1993 and the Super Bowl MVP in 1989. He has 19,247 receiving yards and an on-going streak of at least one catch in 225 straight games, both records. Rice also holds records with 176 touchdowns on pass receptions; 12 seasons with more than 1,000 receiving yards; 1,848 receiving yards in a single season and 22 touchdown catches in a single season.

Rice's production decreased last season despite having 75 receptions, a respectable 11th in the NFC. But his receiving yards (805) and average per catch (10.7) were the worst full-season totals of his illustrious career.

"Jerry Rice is a great football player," Gruden said. "It's a privilege to be associated with him."

For the Raiders, the burning questions are: Does Rice have anything left to contribute and will the former 49ers great mesh with Tim Brown, another future Pro Football Hall of Famer? Brown, a 14-year veteran who will turn 35 on July 22, is the team's career-leading receiver with 846 catches. Coincidence or not, Brown was absent from Rice's first workout with the Raiders.

"I'm confident we can make this work," Gruden said. "We've got to prove that. Tim Brown is a great player, and he's going to be a huge part of what happens here. That won't change."

Rice said, "This is going to jump-star my career all over again. Not saying I have to be the main guy. What I want to do is come in here and do what I've been doing my entire career; that's basically just being a little kid out there on the football field, and doing something that I love."

When he first showed up to the Raiders facility in surburban Alameda, Rice saw a few familiar faces. The Raiders signed former 49ers running back Charlie Garner in April. Safety Marquez Pope and running Terry Kriby, also former S.F. teammates of Rice, re-signed with the Raiders after playing in Oakland last season.

Rice becomes the latest 49ers great to sign with the Raiders. They previously lured safety Ronnie Lott and running back Roger Craig.

Updated: 6-6-2001


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