KIRKLAND, Wash. Feb 25, 2005 — Jerry Rice was released by the Seattle Seahawks on Friday, perhaps signaling an end to the career of greatest receiver in NFL history.
The release was announced in a short statement from the team, which acquired the 42-year-old Rice from Oakland in a trade last season.
"We are grateful to Jerry and the role he was willing to fill for the Seahawks last year," coach Mike Holmgren said in the statement. "He is one of the greatest players in the history of our game and we wish him nothing but the best."
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Rice is the career leader in receptions with 1,549; total yards with 22,895; and receiving touchdowns with 197, all far ahead of the closest pursuer. He also leads in total touchdowns with 207, 32 more than Emmitt Smith, who announced his retirement earlier this month.
Rice indicated after the Seahawks were eliminated by St. Louis in the playoffs last month that he still was interested in playing.
"I still feel like I have football left in me, a lot of football in me," he said.
However, it remains to be seen whether there is a team who might be interested in signing a 42-year-old, who began his career with San Francisco in 1985 and was on three Super Bowl winners with the 49ers, winning the Super Bowl MVP in 1989. Audrey D'Onfrio, a spokeswoman for the receiver, said it was too early for such speculation.
Rice's possible return to San Francisco has been a hot topic in the Bay Area, but new 49ers coach Mike Nolan has mostly discouraged such speculation. Earlier this week, Nolan acknowledged the club had discussed signing Rice so he could retire with San Francisco, but Nolan doesn't believe Rice would be able to play regularly with the Niners.
"It's my understanding in our discussions that Jerry still wants to test the market and see if someone is interested in having him on the team as a full-time participant," Nolan said Tuesday. "If he wants to retire (with the 49ers), that is certainly something that we would be very open to, but it's my understanding that those aren't his desires."