It’s not hard to understand why Sidney Rice is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks and not the Minnesota Vikings. It’s the money. $41 million over five years with $18.5 million guaranteed. No way in hell were the Vikings going to match that kind of offer, not on a player with an injury history like Rice’s, not with their cap situation, not with Adrian Peterson in line for a contract extension. And – let’s be honest – Rice didn’t exactly put up the kind of overall numbers that would normally warrant such a huge deal. He had one great year in Minnesota, and three not-great years.
Given the financial realities underlying what went down between Rice and the Vikings, there’s absolutely no valid reason for Rice to be bitter. He got his money anyway, no? But why do I get the feeling Rice is bitter nonetheless? His comments Wednesday certainly seem to indicate that there are hard feelings from his side.
In an interview with the Pioneer-Press, Rice gave his side of the story on how his divorce from the Vikings went down. According to him the Vikings’ front office let him walk without so much as a token negotiation, or even a phone call.
“If you hear from them throughout the rest of the season telling you they are going to be in touch, are going to negotiate and it never happens, you’ve got to wonder – do they really want me there or not?” Rice said. “I just didn’t feel it….It came down to Seattle showing me they wanted me to be a part of the program.”
Rice says the Seahawks aggressively pursued him from the start of free agency. In other words they made him feel loved and wanted. The Vikings on the other hand showed nothing but stony indifference, possibly because they knew already they had no shot at retaining Rice given the price he would command and their own crippling cap issues.
Like I said, reality sometimes gets in the way of our dreams, and we just have to deal with that. The Vikings may have wanted to keep Rice, and Rice may have wanted to stay in Minnesota, but the sad truth is there was no shot of that happening. For Rice to suggest after the fact that he was ill-treated by the front-office is sort of pathetic. Maybe he just doesn’t understand salary caps and inflated markets. What did he want the Vikings to do? Throw him a going-away party? Drunk-dial him at 3 AM crying and begging him to come back?
Rice’s irrational bitterness comes as no surprise, considering the way he pouted two off-seasons ago when the Vikings didn’t offer him the long-term deal he thought he had earned by making one Pro Bowl with considerable help from Brett Favre. I still say Rice’s waffling over whether to have hip surgery – waffling that ultimately cost him half the 2010 season – was essentially a form of protest over the lack of contract talks, but Rice is still denying that. Rice is sticking to his story on the injury: He says he delayed surgery because the doctors told him the hip would heal with rehab, and when it didn’t he had no choice but to undergo a belated procedure. Any suggestion of ulterior motive remains, in Rice’s words, “a bunch of bull.”
Yet the criticism persists. When asked about on-going skepticism over his handling of the injury Rice told the Pioneer-Press, ”I don’t really care about that. It’s a decision I had to live with. I’m fine with the decision that was made.”
Interestingly, Rice still refuses to discuss the exact nature of his injury, but will only say he is now fully healthy. There have been rumors that Rice is suffering from a degenerative hip condition, but Rice denies this. Obviously the Seahawks would not have given Rice the deal they gave him if they weren’t certain about his ability to play out the contract on two good hips. Still, if I were a Seattle fan, I’d be a tad nervous over Rice’s reticence to discuss the details of the injury. What is Seattle’s new highly-paid would-be deep receiving threat hiding?
And what happens if, down the road, the Seahawks stop showing Rice the love he thinks he deserves? Will he start pouting again? Will that hip start feeling sore? My advice to Pete Carroll and John Schneider? Call Sidney at least once a night. Tell him you appreciate him. Drop by his place every now-and-then to tuck him into bed and tell him a story. I’d also consider finding a better QB than Tarvaris Jackson, but that’s just me.