Don’t do it, Mike |

Don’t do it, Mike

I really hate to do this.I do not want to help the Denver Broncos in any way. It goes against every fiber in my being. But …Mike Shanahan, don’t do it. Don’t sign Jerry Rice.The Mastermind and the greatest receiver in the history of football have talked on the phone this week and there’s a good chance the two will meet in Denver next week.Rice is no longer the dominant force he was from 1987-1996, his zenith with the San Francisco 49ers – not even close. After he blew out is knee in Week 1 of the 1997 season, he was never the same.He began to lose his breakaway speed. By 2000, his final campaign with the Niners, he was inexplicably dropping balls like he did during his rookie year in 1985.Rice really should have called it a career after 2000, but opted to sign on with the Oakland Raiders. Like another San Francisco Bay Area icon Willie Mays, Rice’s mind thinks he can still play the game, but at 42, the body is no longer willing.Rice was cut by both the Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks last year. Think about that. The Seahawks.It conjures the painful image of Mays with the New York Mets during the 1973 World Series completely missing a routine flyball in center field.We want to remember the greats in their apex – Rice slicing through the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII or Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series.The bottom line is that Rice is not physically able to contribute to the Broncos.I was listening to KOA Thursday when the story broke and callers had different suggestions of the ways Rice can help the Broncos.”Rice has made every quarterback he’s played with better,” one caller said. So would he help Jake Plummer? Wrong.The only thing Plummer and Joe Montana have in common is the No. 16. Rice’s quarterbacks with the Niners were Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and head and shoulders above Plummer. In Oakland, Rich Gannon was the MVP in 2002, again several steps ahead of Plummer.Host Dave Logan was harping on Rice’s potential to mentor the Broncos’ younger receivers like Ashley Lelie and Darius Watts. Nope.First, can’t Rod Smith do that, while still being an effective receiver, as opposed to Rice?Second, Rice doesn’t have mentoring skills. In his mind he is still the Rice of old, a No. 1 receiver. This was the case in 1996 when the Niners drafted a receiver out of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.He didn’t give that kid the time of day. The kid’s name was Terrell Owens and we’ve seen how well his people skills have worked out. If Rice could be a mentor, he would have taken him under his wing from the start.Rice would have said, “Kid, when you score, act like you’ve been there before.” Rice would have never tolerated the “Dallas Star Incident” when T.O. scored at Texas Stadium and promptly ran to the center of the field and strutted on the star of the Dallas Cowboy helmet, prompting a fracas.Had Rice taken the mentor role, a nation would not have gone through a Sharpie craze in 2002.Oh yeah, as a fourth or fifth receiver, Rice would likely have to be on special teams. No. 80 is looking more and more like the Mays of 1973.Don’t do it, Mastermind. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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