When Jerry Rice was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday, it gave San Francisco 49ers fans and Oakland Raiders fans an opportunity to reflect upon the glory days of bay area Football.
Rice played for and is remembered fondly by both bay area teams. The NFL’s all-time leading receiver won the Super Bowls with San Francisco and helped win two division titles and a conference championship in Oakland.
Rice’s enshrinement gave San Francisco and Oakland fans an opportunity to forget about the gloomy state of bay area football and remember the glorious past.
Neither the Oakland Raiders nor the San Francisco 49ers has experienced a winning season since 2002 and although it may be hard to remember, the bay area used to be a region of football dominance.
From 1970 to 2002 the 49ers and Raiders combined to win 30 division titles and eight Super Bowls. San Francisco was led by Bill Walsh and Joe Montana and the Raiders were led by John Madden and Ken Stabler.
During those 32 years, 19 hall-of-famers (including Al Davis) played for or were involved with the Raiders, while 18 played across the bay in San Francisco.
These two teams, led by hall of fame talent, seemed to both be in the playoffs year after year and were constantly among the NFL’s elite, this however has not been the case recently for bay area fans who have seen their teams slip to mediocre at best.
Neither team has had a playoff appearance, or even a winning record, since 2002 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eliminated both bay area teams from the playoffs.
Since that 2002 season the Raiders have lost nine or more games seven times while the 49ers have done it six. Last year’s 8-8 record by the 49ers was the best football the bay area fans have seen since 2002.
However, the tides may be turning for bay area football fans as the future looks bright for both teams. Mike Singletary and his 49ers are legitimate contenders to win the NFC West, while the Raiders are optimistic because of the acquisition of Jason Campbell.
After Rice, there may not be another bay area player visiting Canton, Ohio, anytime soon, but hopefully for bay area fans, both teams will return to the playoffs and glory days which were so plentiful during Rice’s career.