Jerry Rice stepped from the podium at the San Francisco 49ers’ team hotel, walked into a hallway, then tried to evaluate the impact of what he had just told reporters.
“I think I opened a can of worms,” the All-Pro wide receiver said.
When Rice on Monday suggested he might consider retirement if the 49ers win Super Bowl XXIX, he tossed a grenade on a game sorely lacking for excitement. At an afternoon news conference, Rice said he might be playing his last Super Bowl because, at 32, he’s not sure how many more years he will be playing.
While that didn’t cause a ripple, Rice’s next response did. If the 49ers won Sunday’s game, he was asked, would he consider retiring?
“Would I?” Rice said. “It might be something I’d think about.”
“I told you guys that I’m taking it year by year,” said Rice. “If I’m still competitive and the fire is still inside, I will continue to play. If it’s gone, then I think it’s time to walk away from the game. Ten years has been great to me. I’m not saying that I’m retiring. That’s a decision I’ll think about after the season is over. If the thirst is still there, I’ll come back next year and play.”
Rice, who earned $2.380 million this season, is under contract through 1997 and is committed, as he repeated, “to hold every record possible.”
He leads the league in career touchdowns with 139, but is second to Art Monk in career catches (934-820), second to James Lofton in career yardage (14,004-13,275) and second to Don Maynard in career 100-yard games (50-49).
Norton goes for three-peat
Ken Norton won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys, then signed as a free agent with the 49ers. Guess who’s back in the big game?
Norton brought along a reminder of the spoils of winning the NFL title the ring he earned from last year’s Super Bowl victory over Buffalo.
“I wanted these guys to see what we’re after, what this is all about,” Norton said as the diamonds in his ring sparkled. “I don’t wear it that much. I decided to bring it out before we came here, and wear it on the plane and let guys get a good look at it.
“Now, it’s being put away. I think they got the idea.”
Feet, don’t wander
The 49ers are taking no chances with players wandering into places they shouldn’t be this week.
“We don’t have any restrictions,” offensive lineman Jess Sapolu said. “But we’ve been warned about staying away from some places. They had a lieutenant from the Miami Police Department talk to the team at our meeting.”
The 49ers practiced for 90 minutes at the University of Miami on Monday, working on scoring from inside the 20-yard-line. The defense worked on stopping the Chargers inside the 20.
“Steve (Young) looked sharp,” coach George Seifert said of his quarterback. “I think what really helped us was running on a dry, grass field. The receivers’ cuts, turns - you could just see from what we’ve been doing it was up two, three notches.”
Also, defensive end Richard Dent took five snaps with the first-team defense and was cleared medically to play. He’s been out since the second game of the season with torn right knee ligaments.
Right guard Derrick Deese (ankle) didn’t practice, but is expected back on Wednesday. Special teams player Dedrick Dodge (knee infections) remains in San Francisco and is expected to join the team Thursday.
Before boarding a flight to Miami on Monday, the Chargers practiced in San Diego.
“Nothing new,” coach Bobby Ross said after a 1-hour practice on a damp field.
Defensive tackle Shawn Lee, who missed the AFC championship game with a knee injury, did work out. But defensive tackle Reggie White did not practice because of gout that developed in a foot during the weekend. He is on medication and Ross said he expected the swelling to be down in time for White to join the team for its practice in pads Wednesday.
Both teams are off today.
Can’t stay away
Thurman Thomas has made it to his fifth consecutive Super Bowl. Sort of.
The star running back for the Buffalo Bills will be coaching in the Cuervo Margarita Bowl, a flag football championship game Saturday featuring former NFL players against amateurs. Thomas will coach the amateur players, who were selected through nationwide tryouts.
“It should be fun,” Thomas said.
Playing against Thomas’ team will be former Super Bowl players Ken Stabler, Jim Kiick, Russ Francis and Jim Burt. The game will benefit the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
Fakes not likely
There is virtually no chance tickets to Super Bowl XXIX are counterfeit, and the NFL doesn’t expect a problem with counterfeit media credentials like it had in Atlanta last year.
“We learned a lot about how far people will go last year,” said Jim Steeg, director of special events for the NFL.
The Chargers arrived for their first Super Bowl Monday night, shrugging off the fact they’re the biggest underdogs in the game’s 29-year history.
The 49ers are 19-point favorites.
“I don’t think a lot of people wanted us to be here, but hey, we played physical football, and we played team football,” said receiver Tony Martin.
“We’re not here because of luck. We’re here because we played physical and sent other guys home,” said Martin, traded by his hometown Miami Dolphins to the Chargers in March.
“We’ve got a feeling we can beat them,” Martin said. “They’re not an unbeatable team. Somebody beat them this year.”
The 49ers were an NFL-best 13-3, losing to Kansas City, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
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