What do Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott have in common?
Both are Hall of Fame players and NFL legends. Both were drafted by legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh. Both contributed to one of the greatest NFL dynasties of all time and won multiple Super Bowls as members of the San Francisco 49ers.
Oh yeah, and both of them left the 49ers in the twilights of their respective careers. Both committed the ultimate treason in the eyes of 49er fans. They suited up and took the field as members of the rival Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders.
The choice of both these men to leave the red and gold for the silver and black is questionable at best. Now it seems their treachery was not limited to their playing days.
Both men reportedly met with the players and coaches of the 49ers' first two opponents of the 2010 regular season leading up to those first two games. Rice met with the Seattle Seahawks. Lott met with the New Orleans Saints.
New Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll reportedly assembled his team as they were preparing to open the season against the 49ers and asked, "If you could ask Jerry Rice any question, what would it be?" Reportedly the Seahawks squawked out a variety of queries before their head coach stepped aside and said, "Well, ask him yourself."
Jerry Rice appeared before the team to answer questions and provide a motivational pep talk. The ploy apparently worked as the Seahawks found a way to not only beat, but embarrass, the favored 49ers in Week 1.
Not more than one week after that drubbing, Saints head coach Sean Payton apparently approached Ronnie Lott to address his team. It is questionable why a defending world champion seeks a pep talk in Week 2 following a gritty win in Week 1, but Lott obliged just days before the Saints faced his old team.
In defense of both Rice and Lott, there were logical reasons for both of them to do what they did. Jerry Rice has had a personal relationship with Carroll who served as 49ers defensive coordinator in 1995 and 1996. Rice also played a few meaningless games at the end of the 2004 season with the Seahawks.
Lott also had a personal relationship with Payton thus giving justification for his decision. But what does this say for the team?
The 49ers have been leaning heavily on tradition in recent years. They reverted to a traditional-inspired look in their jerseys, established the 49ers Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. Hall of Fame, and re-established contact with former owner Eddie Debartolo, Jr. The team hopes to draw on its proud roots to summon the fortitude to return to the playoffs and beyond. So why are team heroes giving pointers to opponents?
Are these legends trying to prod the current roster on to their own greatness? Have Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice lost their sense of what it means to be 49er Alumni? Is it all a big coincidence?
I doubt Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott meant any offense to the team by taking the actions they did. But it is certainly interesting. I find myself questioning if it would have happened under Eddie D.
Keep the Faith!
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