The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies were held Saturday in what was the usual emotional day of tributes and honors. The most famous of the enshrinees was former 49er and Raider and arguably the greatest to ever play the game of football, Jerry Rice.
Rice spent the final three seasons of his career in Oakland with the Raiders after a 16 year career with the 49ers. He went to three Super Bowls as a 49er and one with the Raiders. Although if you listened to his speech, you would have thought he hadn't even made it out of training camp with the Raiders.
The receiving great spent just one sentence on the Raiders during his entire speech. A speech that lasted 20 minutes. Here is the sentence that had the one and only mention he gave of the Raiders. To put it in the proper context, I included the surrounding statements. The sentence starts out with him talking about the 49ers:
"Excited like I am now because I knew I was joining a great team that had already won two Super Bowls. And of course we went on to win three more. I was also part of the Oakland Raiders-- a team I admired and also went to the Super Bowl. But standing here today as the newest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, feeling like a Rookie all over again, I can honestly say this is the greatest team I have ever belonged to."
The speech began with Rice being introduced by Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Then Rice went on to speak glowingly about his Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young. He thanked his fellow 49er receivers and his head coach Bill Walsh. He even went on to thank the York family.
But among all the quarterbacks, there was no mention of NFL MVP Rich Gannon. Among his fellow receivers, there was no mention of Tim Brown. Among his coaches there was no mention of John Gruden. Among the ownership, there was no mention of Al Davis.
To add even more insult to his Raiderless speech, he spent a great deal of time paying tribute to "Dancing With the Stars". The Reality dance competition show he spent a single season on a couple years back. Here is what he said:
"To my Dancing with the Stars family, you provided me with a whole new audience to thrill. A new challenge, another venue where I could be judged and triumph over my fears. All I had to do was wear sequens, an afro wig, and heels... You know what guys, I feel like dancing."
So for three seasons with the Raiders including a Super Bowl trip, the Raiders get a sidebar while one season on a cheesy reality show gets refered to as "family."
I feel sorry for those Raider fans who showed up to watch the ceremonies in their Silver and Black #80 Jerry Rice jerseys. They were treated to a four second bone throwing that made it seem as if he either did not enjoy his time with the Raiders or simply didn't care. Saying they were an afterthought would be generous.
Regardless of his reasoning for giving the Raiders the cold shoulder, what he really accomplished was giving the fans in attendance as well as fans across the Raider Nation the one finger salute. And they deserve better.