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SILVER-AND-BLACK WILL PLUNDER NINERS AGAIN

They’re baaaaaack!! The Raiders are living up to their reputation for plundering the local citizenry like Mediterranean pirates. The hottest topic in the Bay Area is one that creates drawn lines and has everyone picking a side. Is Al Davis going to ride into effete San Francisco, kidnap the icon Jerry Rice from under the nose of the wine drinkers, and haul him like captured booty back to O-town?

 

This scribe has it on good authority that it will be Rice. It should be. There are issues to be worked out, but in the end, Davis gets what Davis wants. The 1980 Raiders made the Super Bowl on the strength of veterans, and that is the logical push for them to make.      

 

This is like seeing the Barbarians come in and have their way with your women. The Raiders getting Rice is the A’s getting Willie Mays to switch addresses back in 1970. If you are a 49er fan, how does this make you feel?

 

It is opinion time for the "49er Faithful" and "The Black Hole" fans, because the choice is Rice, Andre Rison, or neither one.

 

Rison or Rice? Oh man, are you kidding? These are a couple of guys who were so fast in their prime that they could turn the switch off and be under the sheets before the lights went out.

 

Davis, Jon Gruden and the Raiders face a public conundrum. Which one do they want? Do they want either one playing alongside Tim Brown? Rice is not technically available, but Bill Walsh, in fact, lists one of his greatest final accomplishments as his handling of Rice’s departure from the 49ers. Free agent Rison can be had.

 

Oakland is there, brother. One game away from the Big Dance last year. Quarterback Rich Gannon is no spring chicken. Leases and lawsuits will not prevent a return to L.A. (I refer ye to the archives of history.) They need to draw sell-outs and light up the Bay Area TV market. Rice would put butts in the seats. This is about winning this year.

 

There is no substitute.

 

Rice is not the deep threat he was, but he can still make important plays and be a fabulous weapon for Gannon, who is an outstanding scrambler who will give Rice time to juke defenders. 39 or no 39 (his age come October), if you give Rice time to juke defenders, explosive things will happen.

 

The Raiders also must decide whether their schematic is to beat Baltimore in the AFC title game, or to best set themselves up for West Division opponents. Walsh set up his offense to beat the 4-3 and San Francisco ran rampant over Denver in the 1990 Super Bowl. Gannon lobbied for Rison in 2000 because of their Kansas City connection, and the move paid off handsomely when Rison took Jett’s place and scored the winning touchdown in the opener against San Diego, despite not knowing the playbook. Most of the Raider players like Rison, who resurrected his career here.

 

Rice gives them more weapons against Baltimore, and for this reason get Rice. Rice can cover the middle and go deep. Rison has “done a lot of living, if you know what I mean” according to my high-ranking Raiders’ source. For this reason among others, Rice brings more to the table

 

Brown is a possession receiver, but Rice can cover the middle and still go deep on occasion. James Jett offers enough speed to keep the defense honest, although Gannon cannot consistently get the ball down field. If Jett shows that he can catch the ball, though, the Raiders’ will have more weapons than the Army. The edge goes to Rice. On the best rushing team in the AFC from last year, opponents not only have to defend in reality, but make extra preparations.

 

Meanwhile, Gannon, Tyrone Wheatley and the rest of the team will find holes widen for them. Brown and Rice could be the best two-some in the league

 

Rison’s agent is lobbying to get his guy a deal, but Oakland should wait for Rice. Rice and Brown will find Oakland is not too big a town for both to hold one end of the Lombardi Trophy.

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