With Rice, Holmgren to employ 4-receiver sets
Steve Largent is a Hall of Famer and a Seahawks legend. But he won't stand in the way of newly-acquired Jerry Rice wearing Largent's retired No. 80. Largent, who went on to become a four-term U.S. congressman from Oklahoma, was elected to the Hall
of Fame in 1995.
The number was retired by the team in 1995 after Largent's induction in Canton, Ohio, and hasn't been worn by a Seahawks player since he left.
Rice asked Largent for permission to unretire the number in Seattle, which Rice has worn throughout his NFL career, and received his blessing.
"When he said that, it sent chills through my body," Rice said. "It meant the world to me. I know what he did for this team. When you think about the Seattle Seahawks, you think about Steve Largent."
The trade that sent the greatest receiver in NFL history from the Oakland Raiders to the Seahawks was formally announced after the league trade deadline passed in the afternoon.
Seattle gave up a seventh-round draft choice in 2005 to acquire the 42-year-old Rice. To make room on their roster, the Seahawks released rookie punter Donnie Jones.
The trade reunites Rice, a 13-time Pro Bowl selection in his 20th NFL season, with coach Mike Holmgren. Holmgren was quarterbacks coach from 1986-88 and offensive coordinator from 1989-91 when Rice was developing into a star with the San Francisco 49ers.
When the 49ers released Rice after the 2000 season, Holmgren tried to persuade Rice to come to Seattle to help him build the Seahawks into a Super Bowl contender. But Rice elected to stay in the Bay Area and continue his career with the Raiders.
"We have a young, good football team," Holmgren said. "By adding Jerry to the puzzle, I really believe with all my heart, it's going to help us this season immediately."
Although the Seahawks will continue to go with Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson as their starting receivers, Rice will play plenty with his new team, and Holmgren plans to use more four-receiver sets.
Rice will move from flanker, a position he has played his entire career and where Jackson starts, to split end.
"He told me, 'I'll do anything you want me to do," Holmgren said.
Rice became disenchanted this season in Oakland when the Raiders (2-4) stopped throwing him the ball. He has five catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns this season after leading the Raiders with 63 catches for 869 yards and two touchdowns last season.
In a 31-3 loss to Denver on Sunday, Rice didn't have a pass thrown to him. His record receptions streak ended at 274 in Week 2 against Buffalo. Rice holds league records for most career receptions (1,524), most yards receiving (22,533) and most touchdown receptions (194).
"It's really been very frustrating," he said. "I just got dealt a bad hand. It didn't work out in Oakland and I'm here. That's behind me now and the main focus now is the Seattle Seahawks."
Raiders owner Al Davis tried to get a deal done quickly, even if it meant getting less in return.
"It was Jerry Rice who made the decision, and we honestly tried to accommodate him the best we can," Davis said Tuesday night in a conference call. "All we're getting is a conditional seventh-round draft pick. We accepted the trade out of respect for Jerry. We wanted to accommodate Jerry. ... This is best for him, best for this team and best for coach Norv Turner."
Asked whether he wants to play beyond this season, Rice said he hasn't thought about it.
The Seahawks will pay the $873,529 that remains on his $1.35 million contract this season.
Seattle, which has lost two straight, might be without third wide receiver Bobby Engram this weekend at Arizona. Engram sprained his left ankle in a 30-20 loss to the Patriots last Sunday.
Holmgren said Rice would play against the Cardinals.
The Rice trade reminded Seahawks fans of 1984, when the team brought in running back Franco Harris after losing Curt Warner for the season with a knee injury in the opener.
Harris never resembled the player who made his Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was dismal for the Seahawks, but the team finished 12-4 and made the playoffs.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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