INSIDE SLANT

The Raiders announced Monday they have traded venerable wide receiver Jerry Rice to the Seattle Seahawks. The trade will be final once Rice undergoes a physical and the deal gets league approval.

Rice cleaned out his locker earlier Monday and told teammates he was leaving the team.

"He cleaned out all his personal gear from his locker, signed a few jerseys and then said his good-byes to teammates," a source inside the Raiders told The Sports Xchange before the team made its official announcement. "It sure looks like he is gone."

However, as he left the Raider facility Rice evaded questions from reporters as adroitly as he has burned so many defensive backs in his amazing, 20-year career.

"Fellas, we'll see what happens" he said. "I'm just going home to feed my dog."

Rice, 42, will be reunited with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was an offensive coordinator during Rice's days with the San Francisco 49ers. The Raiders didn't announce what they will receive in exchange for Rice, but it's expected to be a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

Rice, who owns virtually every important receiving record in the NFL, saw his streak of consecutive games with a catch end at 274 earlier this season. Against Denver Sunday, Rice played but was not even thrown a pass, making it the third time this season he did not have a reception.

It seemed obvious to most that meant the Raiders were avoiding the possibility of injury in order to either trade Rice before Tuesday's deadline, or possibly just let him go so he might catch on with a team that would utilize him.

Rice met with Raiders owner Al Davis last Wednesday evening, but there was no announcement in terms of whether the Oakland owner was willing to grant him his release or trade him.

--Rich Gannon's season is over, but the Raiders quarterback with the fractured vertebra isn't ready yet to call an end to his career.

Injured on Sept. 26, Gannon broke his long silence Monday explaining that after seeking opinions from four specialists, his options for this year were clear.

"It's the general consensus that a return to action this season is unrealistic," he said. "I will not be able to come back and participate this year.

"As far as me commenting on where we are in terms of the injury and as far as my (football) future, I'm just not really in a position to speculate beyond the 2004 season."

Gannon refused to comment on whether the specialists he has seen advised him to retire from football. There have been unconfirmed reports all four told him he should not step back on a football field.

Gannon said he will be in a neck brace for a minimum of six weeks.

"I'm going to need to undergo further tests and an extensive rehabilitation period before really even entertaining discussion of my future in football."

The Raiders will place Gannon on injured reserve at some point this week and are expected to sign a No. 3 quarterback. Since Gannon went down, the team has played three games with only two available quarterbacks on the roster.

All Gannon would say about attempting a resumption of his career was that there were "a lot of variables" and that "I won't be solely responsible for that decision. I have a wife and two children and an owner and an organization that have been very, very supportive of me."

Asked if he would be inclined to err on the side of caution in making a decision between his career and his potential health, Gannon made a joke, saying "I don't know that I've ever erred on the side of caution ... although I've been criticized sometimes for being too conservative, I guess."

On a more serious note, he said "I understand the severity of the injury and the significance of it. I think I've been a pretty good decision maker in the past. When we get all the information and I'm able to sort through it with our people, hopefully we'll be able to make a decision that's best for everybody involved."

In the meantime, Gannon said he will stick around Oakland and try to help the team battle its way out of a three-game losing streak.

"This is important to me," he explained. "I take a great deal of pride in this and I'm going to have to stay involved, in meetings. I'm going to continue to try to find ways to help this football team get through this bump in the road and get back to playing the type of football I think everybody around here is accustomed to playing."

NOTES, QUOTES

Oakland fans are almost as well known as the team's black jerseys. But after the team -- in particular quarterback Kerry Collins -- was uncustomarily booed without mercy Sunday, there may be a schism developing.

"It felt like a road game with our fans," tackle Barry Sims said. "It's tough to play two road trips and then (another against) Denver. That's what it basically was. I mean, our fans sucked."

"That's exactly what you don't want," Woodson said. "We play for ourselves, but for the fans as well. When your own fans boo, that's hard on you."

"When you are bad, you kind of expect your fans to turn on you," shrugged guard Frank Middleton. "It's kind of sad it has to be that way. In the end, we have to live with the final result. In other words, anybody who booed us, to hell with 'em."

-- When LT Barry Sims had to leave the game briefly with a minor injury, his position was taken by former RT starter Langston Walker.

-- No. 1 draft choice Robert Gallery, who had toiled behind Barry Sims at LT until being installed as the starter at RT in Week 2, remained at RT when Sims left briefly due to an injury.

-- WR Ronald Curry's first penalty of the season -- for an illegal formation for having lined up off the ball -- nullified his own 12-yard completion against Denver.

-- In his last eight starts, all of them losses, QB Kerry Collins has thrown three touchdown passes, been intercepted 13 times, lost five fumbles and been sacked 24 times.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. BRONCOS

PASSING OFFENSE: F -- When you average 3.25 yards per pass play, completing 100 percent of your passes means you still come up nine inches short of a first down every series. Four sacks. A fumble inside the 10 by Jerry Porter on the one bright drive of the game. No sign of a downfield completion as passes sailed every which way but to the target. Mercifully, Kerry Collins only threw one ball to the wrong team this time, not three.

RUSHING OFFENSE: F -- There were no phantom 56-yard runs to feel good about this time. The Raiders gained 31 yards in 16 carries. That hurt because the Raiders saw something -- the Broncos are so good at flowing to the ball, it figured Amos Zereoue's cutbacks would be productive. Instead, it looked like Denver was playing with 15 bodies on the field. The running game, what there was of it, was no option by the mid-second quarter. This was a game where the Raiders needed Tyrone Wheatley to move the pile.

PASSING DEFENSE: F -- There were times when the Raiders didn't cover Jake Plummer's receivers at all. Specifically, the tight ends, who caught six of Plummer's 11 completions. Plummer had a touchdown for every 3 2/3 completions and two of the three went to tight ends Jeb Putzier and Dwayne Carswell. Plummer refused to stand in one spot like Drew Bledsoe and the Raiders never got him on the ground.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- The definition of a sieve is giving up 254 rushing yards. Reuben Droughns had 176 of them but would have had 200-plus had he not been given a rest late in the game. Teams are seeing the Raiders line up with two defensive ends at outside linebacker, spreading out the field and taking advantage of those "linebackers" weaknesses in open field. And it promises to get no better with Deuce McAllister, LaDainian Tomlinson, Stephen Davis, Tomlinson again, Denver again and Priest Holmes coming up over the next six weeks. Without improvement, it spells slow death.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- At least the kickers are holding up their end of the bargain and the improvement in kick coverage from last year is like night and day. Suddenly it doesn't seem all that important.

COACHING: D -- The players insist they are being coached and put in position to win, then don't convert their practices into games. This contrasts to a year ago when fingers were being pointed at Bill Callahan and his staff. What they say may be true but in this game fire was lacking too.


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