Sidney Rice has spent all of training camp on the PUP list, presumably because he is still recovering from a hip injury suffered in the NFC Championship Game.
I use the word “presumably” there because, all of a sudden, there is talk that Rice’s hip isn’t as bad as he wants everyone to think. In his August 10 column, the ever-controversial Judd Zulgad not only raises the possibility that Rice is exaggerating the severity of his injury, but also speculates on a motive.
All the attention that has been focused on Brett Favre‘s absence from training camp has meant the elephant in the room (or at least in Mankato) has been pretty much overlooked.
That would be the curious case of wide receiver Sidney Rice and his hip injury.
First, what we believe to be true: There is something wrong with Rice’s hip. The problem landed him on the physically unable to perform list to open camp, and he has yet to practice. No one believes Rice is faking an injury that we’re told happened in the NFC Championship Game in late January.
But here’s where it gets murky and where everyone has gone silent: Rice and the Vikings have declined to reveal the exact nature of the problem — no one outside of the organization knew he was hurt until Rice’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted about it last month — and there appears to be no timetable for his return. In fact, coach Brad Childress said last week that Rice was “a ways away from returning.”
The situation is so vague that it has led to a growing feeling that Rice isn’t rushing back in part because of a contract that will pay him a base salary of $550,000 this season with no escalators. Rice is in the last season of his four-year rookie deal that averages less than $1 million per year.
Last season, Rice racked up 1312 yards on 83 receptions with 8 touchdowns, and added another 4 touchdowns in the playoffs. So, yes, he can legitimately make the case that he is underpaid.
But, there’s an above-board way of dealing with the frustration of feeling you’re not getting your fair share, and there’s an underhanded, slimy way. And if Rice really is exaggerating his hip injury out of disgruntlement…well, to me that qualifies as underhanded and slimy.
Not as underhanded and slimy as sending a bunch of texts to your pals on the team saying you’re going to retire, thereby forcing the team to come to you begging and offering more money, but still.