With new Raider Jerry Rice (left), who turns 39 next month
SI: Silver and black.
Rice: Nasty. Mean. I like it.
SI: Raiders offense.
Rice: Spectacular. I'm running routes I haven't run in five or six years—the deep comeback, some digs. The new stuff stimulates my mind. I'm like a rookie again.
SI: Getting fired. Rice: It happened to Joe Montana and some of the other guys in San Francisco. So why not me? SI: Stats.
Rice: It's never been about the stats. Whenever I said I wanted the ball two or three more times a game, it was taken the wrong way, like I was selfish. It's not selfishness. It's me thinking I can make big plays with the ball in my hands.
Rice: I met Cal Ripken at Camden Yards this summer. He came walking off the field toward me, and I got nervous. I'm thinking, Oh, my God! Cal! He's an idol. I asked him, "Has it hit you about retiring?" He was cool with it. He's ready to go.