|06-05-2005, 06:19 AM||#1|
It is what it Is.
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: in a bunker
Smith gives the Rice signing his blessing
Number not up for Smith
By Patrick Saunders
Denver Post Staff Writer
Rod Smith broke his silence about Jerry Rice on Friday, speaking as if he were the charter member of the Rice fan club.
For those who thought there might be some controversy regarding the No. 80, relax, there was none of that.
As for speculation that Smith's feelings might be bruised by all of the recent talk about Rice instantly becoming the Broncos' new locker room leader and mentor, chill out, there was none of that, either.
"He's what we all strive to be in our profession," Smith said, speaking for the first time to the Denver media since Rice officially joined the Broncos last week. "It's been good, honestly, it's been really good. He's set the standard for what we do, and it's going to be good, not just for the offensive guys, but the defensive guys, too, to be around a guy who has an aura about him."
Rice has worn No. 80 throughout his first 20 years in the NFL, including a short stint with the Seattle Seahawks last season. That number had been retired in Seattle in honor of Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent.
It was Largent who said Rice could borrow the No. 80 while Rice wore a Seahawks uniform.
However, Smith said Rice never asked to wear No. 80 in Denver, and said there was never an issue. Rice is now wearing No. 19.
"You guys in the media talked about it, but Jerry never brought it up, and we still haven't talked about it," Smith said.
Smith was recently on a radio show with former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe attempted to create some controversy by pressing Smith about No. 80.
"Sharpe said, 'Everybody says you should give Jerry his number,"' Smith recalled with a laugh. "I was like, 'Why is it his number? So every No. 80 in the world is his?' And Sharpe says, 'Well, people say you should give it to him, he's a legend.' I said, 'Sharpe, that's like somebody saying this guy over here is a better husband and father than you, so why don't you give him your wife?' It doesn't make sense."
Smith also said he has a fan base in the Rocky Mountain area that he wants to continue to honor.
"Jerry has the West Coast locked down, but here in the mountains I have to respect the fans and the people who rooted for me for the past 11 years," Smith said.
Smith is one of the Broncos' offensive captains and an acknowledged leader in the locker room and on the field. For years, Smith has taken time after practice to coach young wide receivers. Since Rice's arrival, there has been a lot of talk that Rice will be a major leader and mentor. Smith said that's all good and fine, because it won't change his role on the team.
"I know my guys expect me to be out there in front, taking the brunt of the blows if I have to for the guys on this team," Smith said. "I'm still going to do it, no matter who they bring in. If Joe Montana un-retires and comes back, or (John) Elway, I'm still going to continue to do the things I have done. I know it helps our unit and makes us a better football team."
Alexander on IR
The Broncos placed guard P.J. Alexander on the reserve/non-football injury list. Alexander, who was expected to compete with Cooper Carlisle for the starting job at right tackle, injured his knee last month while riding a four-wheel drive, all-terrain vehicle. Alexander was attempting to balance the vehicle when he injured his left knee, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament.
Alexander is a third-year player out of Syracuse. He has played in five career regular-season games, all in 2004 with the Broncos.
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