It's not a long trip. But it will bring back a lot of memories.
When the Oakland Raiders travel a quick 30 miles down I-80 this Sunday afternoon to San Francisco, they'll bring with them a player who knows the neighborhood well _ the NFL's all-time touchdown scorer, Jerry Rice.
Rice spent 16 years (1985-2000) with the San Francisco 49ers, helping them to three Super Bowl titles and himself to 12 All-Star appearances and a ranking as the NFL's career leader in total touchdowns (187), receiving TDs (176), receptions (1,281) and receiving yards (19,247). Now he has started, as he calls it, "a new chapter in my life" as an Oakland Raider.
The teams meet this Sunday in a "Bay Bridge Battle." And will 3Com Park be rocking!
Wearing the same No. 80 he donned as a `Niner, but now with that number stitched on black rather than 49er cardinal, Rice says "It's going to be a very emotional game, I know that. I have so many great fans there. I'm excited."
So will be another player this week as he, too, faces recent ex-teammates _ Tennessee Titans defensive end Kevin Carter. An offseason trade acquisition from the St. Louis Rams, Carter will be meeting his old mates on the road Friday night (FOX-TV, 8:00 PM ET) in one of four nationally televised games this week _ the most of any week this preseason.
Carter was a major force for the Rams in 1999, helping them to their Super Bowl XXXIV title (with a pulsating 23-16 victory over the Titans) while leading the NFL in sacks with 17.0.
This year he will team with another former University of Florida star, Jevon Kearse, to give the Titans a potent pair of rushing bookends.
"What do you do?" says Tennessee general manager Floyd Reese. "How do you block these guys? It will be interesting to see what they do to offenses."
Other highlight games this week
· "Skycam": In the first national TV game of the week on Thursday (Jacksonville at the New York Giants, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET), fans should be able to see some unique camera angles through a "SkyCam" that will be used in coverage of the game, pending a test the day before.
"SkyCam" is a camera suspended over the field behind the offense that provides viewers with unusual replay angles. The technology has been used by several networks, including CBS-TV in its annual Army-Navy game. The NFL is also experimenting this preseason with a "Referee Cam" a small camera on the bill of the referee's cap in ESPN and FOX national TV games.
· "West Coast" VS. Tough "D": In another national TV game (Saturday, CBS-TV, 8:00 PM ET), the revamped New York Jets will get another opportunity to test their new "West Coast" offense. And it will be a good test indeed _ against the indomitable defense of the visiting Baltimore Ravens, who set the NFL record last year for the fewest points (165) allowed in a 16-game season.
· You Guys Again?: They met in Super Bowl XXXII, and now, on national television Monday night (ABC-TV, 8:00 PM ET), the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers will meet (in Green Bay) for the fourth consecutive preseason. The Broncos won the Super Bowl 31-24, and have won two of the three preseason games since.
First Overseas NFL Game 25 Years Ago; American Bowl Coming Up!
Thursday, August 16, was an NFL anniversary. It was 25 years ago (1976) on that day that the first NFL overseas game was played. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Diego Chargers in the preseason contest 20-10 in Tokyo, Japan.
Ten years later, the NFL's American Bowl series was initiated, with 37 games in 11 international cities being played since. Next up: Monday night, August 27 (ABC-TV, 8:00 PM ET) in Mexico City, Mexico, when the Dallas Cowboys meet the Oakland Raiders.