Rice's biggest battle came before game

January 30, 1995|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

MIAMI -- Wide receiver Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers spent the weekend before the Super Bowl fighting flu-like symptoms.

The San Francisco 49ers downplayed the illness, noting he would be able to start and didn't miss any practice time. The 49ers said the illness was just a head cold.

"It's nothing big," said team spokesman Rodney Knox. "They're treating him as you would anyone with a cold."

Besides drinking a lot of fluids, Rice was given an IV before Saturday's light drill to prevent dehydration. He had another IV two hours before kickoff.

Bobby Ross, the San Diego Chargers' coach, also had to cope with the flu over the weekend.

Chargers fans get a new image

Chargers fans are losing their laid-back reputation.

In a city noted for its beaches and sunny days, the San Diego fans haven't had a reputation for being intense in their support for their team. But it now appears the real problem was that the team never made the Super Bowl.

When the Chargers returned from Pittsburgh two weeks ago after winning the AFC title game, the fans filled Jack Murphy Stadium at a welcome home party.

When the Chargers played the Super Bowl yesterday at Joe Robbie Stadium, 15,000 fans went to Jack Murphy Stadium to watch the game on the stadium's DiamondVision screen.

Granted, the tickets were free, but if you're going to watch the game on a television screen anyway, it would seem to be more convenient to do it at home.

For two weeks, community pride was everywhere. Coming to the stadium to cheer was just the latest sign.

"Have you ever heard of another city doing this for their football team?" asked Tom Dixon, 50, slouching in his stadium seat. "It really shows that San Diego is for their Chargers."

Last week, 48,000 tickets were given away within hours at 17 record stores in San Diego. Within days, the free tickets were being scalped for up to $10.

When Chargers officials saw the tickets were so popular, they installed a temporary video screen so they could give away tickets to the seats underneath the permanent screen. The fans in those seats can't see the permanent screen.

"Everybody wants to be there. We could have given away 200,000 tickets," said stadium manager Bill Wilson.

This time, 'Edsel' runs fine

When coach George Seifert of the San Francisco 49ers brought in a lot of new players to rebuild his defense, there was one fan who was worried it wasn't going to work: Seifert's wife, Linda.

"I told myself, 'My God, I hope we're not building an Edsel,' " she said.

"What I was worrying about was we were getting all this perfection, maybe too much. How would it all mesh? But it did mesh," she said.

She said she doesn't enjoy the success as much as she did when the team first started winning.

"The Dallas game," she said of the victory in the NFC title game, "was like a release. Whew. We dodged a bullet."

There had been speculation that Seifert could be fired if he didn't win that game.

"We enjoyed it, but I remember the 1981 Super Bowl," she said. "There was an ecstatic feeling. It was all so unexpected. We were like San Diego is now. They remind me of what we did. It's more fun to be in that situation."

Dent's future uncertain

The future of 49ers defensive end Richard Dent, who had two sacks in the first two games before Ken Norton accidentally ran into him and injured his knee, is up in the air.

Dent was kept on the roster all year in case he might be able to make it back. But he never completely recovered and was on the inactive list for the Super Bowl.

Dent said he'd like to return next year, but he's due to make a base salary of $1.65 million and the 49ers have to decide whether they can fit his salary under the cap.

NFL: Streisand never in plan

Kathie Lee Gifford, the wife of ABC sportscaster Frank Gifford, sang the national anthem.

Her selection became something of a controversy when there were reports that she was picked over Barbra Streisand. The NFL, though, insists Streisand was never considered.

"When you start getting coverage by The National Enquirer about the selection of the national anthem, you know you've hit a different strata. I guess this shows how far we've come," said Jim Steeg, the executive director of special events.

"The commissioner made the decision back in September. We made a commitment [to Kathie Lee] before anything happened. But there was a promoter trying to put together a concert [with Streisand] the Friday and Saturday before the game. He was offering more money than you and I will see in our entire lifetimes. She turned it down.

"So she wasn't going to be here, and she wasn't ever going to do the anthem. It just didn't make any sense. But nothing ever does."

Only teams' eighth meeting

Although the 49ers beat the Chargers, 38-15, just six weeks ago, the Super Bowl was only the eighth meeting between the teams. San Francisco won four of the first seven meetings.

Will cap crimp celebration?

When the 49ers won their last Super Bowl five years ago, owner Eddie DeBartolo took the entire team on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii and gave each player $1,000-a-day per diem to cover any "incidental" expenses.

Now that the salary cap has been put in place, it's uncertain whether expenses for such a trip would have to be counted against the salary cap.

The 49ers decided not to pursue the matter before the game because they didn't want to make it look as if they were taking the victory for granted, but the league is likely to have to rule on the matter.

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