Sanders vs. Rice Sleepless Nights | 3
it's October Thirteenth Nineteen ninety-one one at candlestick park in San Francisco Dion. Sanders stands at the goal. Line in the Falcons Jersey awaiting a forty niner kickoff. It's the the third quarter and the crowd is buzzing but it has nothing to do with primetime just moments ago forty nine receiver Jerry Rice Holding a fifty seven yard touchdown pass. The crowd went threes dion nut so much Indians young. NFL L. career seeing rice up close with the ball in the end zone has become an all too familiar sight during their first meeting. In one thousand nine hundred nine John's rookie year Jerry out randy on for one touchdown and burned him one on one for another. The forty niners won that game forty five to three and then beat Dion. John's Falcons again in Atlanta. The Falcons finished nineteen eighty-nine with an awful three and thirteen record. While Jerry's niners finished fourteen into ooh and flattened the DENVER broncos fifty five to ten in the Super Bowl for their second straight world championship. Jerry led the way with three touchdown touchdown catches to help deliver the Games. MVP Trophy to quarterback Joe. Montana Dion watched it all on tv one thousand nine hundred ninety though somehow got worse for prime time. His Falcons secondary against the now two-time champs the first time at candlestick Park San Francisco. Jerry pulled in one hundred seventy one yards worth of catches including a forty two yard touchdown in a dominant forty niners win. Two Games later sold out. Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta Falcons. cornerback not named Dion. Tried taking Jerry. One on one. And the Falcons paid the price. Rice racked up two hundred twenty five yards receiving and five touchdown receptions tying an NFL record India two professional seasons. He's he's now Owen four against Jerry's niners in those games. Jerry has eight eight touchdown catches dion. Meanwhile has picked off just one pass has and hasn't yet found the end zone either on defense or as a return specialist something. He's keenly aware of as he stands a few yards into the end zone. Now awaiting a niner's kickoff over although dion has been an excellent NFL player albeit. For an overall bad falcons defense. He knows that and he makes sure everyone knows that he knows that. He's had eight interceptions in two seasons and returned a couple of them for touchdowns and he also returned punt for a touchdown but still dion has yet to make a pro bowl and now he's wondering when everyone else will realize how great great he actually is and how much money will follow two years ago when he received his first NFL paycheck. Dion fulfilled the childhood. Promise must he made to his mom that one day he'd be so rich that she'd never have to work again. But there's a memory that still haunts him before his mom's mansion action was ready. Dion made a final visit to his old house on Henderson Avenue. In Fort Myers. He saw the scary cemetery he used to run by and late that evening. He couldn't sleep as he heard the sound of rats scratching behind the houses walls. He felt horrible that his mother still had to live that way even for another night. It's been a constant constant reminder that for her sake he cannot ever stop making big money otherwise she could lose the mansion and return to poverty to avoid. That Dion Dionne knows that he must remain in the spotlight and continued to produce on the field that means he needs to keep producing highlights and wins today in this warm breezy October. Nineteen ninety-one game in San Francisco. No one is giving the falcons much of a shot. They entered candlestick as ten and a half point. Underdogs the Falcons are two and three. If they lose any shot the playoffs. We'll start floating away in the bay win with the game tied at twenty twenty in the third quarter. After Jerry's touchdown dion brings in the kickoff at the Falcons goal. Dion knows he needs to his team is shot in the arm right now. Dion John Follows a few blockers then notices Elaine Open Up. He shifts into another gear of empty. Twenty good awarded thirty yards dion. High stepping into the end zone helps US falcons to the surprising win but his personal battle with Jerry. Rice is far from over two years. After the candlestick crowd booed dion for Yanking Jerry's facemask. Dion has a message for them. After the game he tells reporters that I love coming here and beating the forty niners all their fans going to jump right off the bandwagon Jerry. Jerry Rice isn't ready to concede anything to be on Santa's that easily by now you've likely heard about Disney plus the new streaming service that includes Disney Pixar Marvel Star Wars and National Geographic. Traffic Disney plus is now available in the US and it has one of the most incredible libraries in the entire streaming landscape. And it's all at free from beloved classics like Snow. White and the seven dwarfs to modern blockbusters like Captain Marvel and vendors endgame to critically acclaimed documentaries stories like National Geographic's Free Solo. The content on Disney plus is truly unparalleled Disney plus also offers beloved series like the the simpsons and host of originals. Like the man delorean the first ever Star Wars live action series as well as high school musical the musical the series. He's a very Meta take on the beloved film franchise. It's no wonder Disney plus has become one of the most talked about streaming services of twenty nineteen. So nope don't miss out sign up for Disney plus now and start streaming all this great content today uh from wondering I'm Dan Rubenstein and this is sports worse in in the last episode we explored how Jerry Rice who was drafted into the NFL amid a cloud of some doubt over his small. All school competition overcame early failures in the NFL to become a super bowl champion and legitimate superstar we looked at how Dion Sanders Sanders with his. Now show stopping speed and showboating style landed a big NFL contract in his preferred city and made an instant on field impact. But in their much hyped initial encounter dion was ruthlessly. Welcome to the League by the five year veteran rice as we move into the nineteen nineties with both players is coming into their own as stars their little back and forth will become full on battles when they're deeply rooted needs for winning and excellence as for relevance and recognition feel more and more unsatisfied. They each consider a move. That will tie together. Their football legacies forever. This is is episode three sleepless nights. It's Sunday November. Third Nineteen ninety-one Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium. Three weeks after for the Falcons stunned the forty niners in San Francisco. It's an unseasonably cool afternoon. But the Falcons who haven't had a winning season in nearly a decade aid are red hot. They've now won four of six and if they can take this one and sweep the niners for the season. They'll have a rare winning record and shot at the playoffs playoffs. The niners are still favored by five on the road. But the Falcons are out to prove that they're upset and San Francisco was no fluke. The city of Atlanta Lanta somewhat used to their team's disappointing is starting to embrace the Falcons on Atlanta's sideline dion good friend. Mc Hammer is roaming around around in his shades and Maroon suit his new single too legit to quit for good. Reason is a smash hit standing near Hammer a bay area native mind. You is the falcons colorful second year. Head coach Jerry. GLANVILLE WHO's wearing all-black not too far. Away newly-acquired Falcon Receiver. Andre Reisen season is already drawing opponents. Finally Dion thinks I'm surrounded by guys with my sort of swagger. These are my people. Aw On the other side Line Jerry. Rice looks over at MC hammer and rolls his eyes. The Falcons are not Jerry's kind of team. They're not the type of players who hand the ball to the official. After scoring a touchdown. They're not the sort of everyday pros who conservatively fall on bumbler cautiously go down after intercepting a pass ask knelt. These are dudes who showboat in the end zone who unnecessarily try and lateral the ball around after a takeaway like a bunch of careless clowns probably W. why they haven't won a damn thing thinks jerry all sizzle no steak. That lucky win a few weeks ago not happening again. Rice knows knows it's on him to make sure there's no more embarrassment this season for the niners. This is a crossroads for the franchise. They're also foreign four at this point after back to back Super Bowl titles in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight eighty nine. The niners were fourteen into last season but lost to the eventual champion giants in the NFC title game. They're also now a couple years removed from the retirement of former head coach. Bill Walsh mastermind of the franchises. Incredible run also to veteran stars of the one thousand nine hundred forty niner dynasty defensive back Ronnie Lott and running back Roger. Craig left after last year. For the Cross town raiders. The niners legendary legendary quarterback Joe. Montana is now thirty five years old and out for the season with an injury. His replacement is Steve. Young young lefty. WHO's been waiting in the wings long enough to start law? School classes young is talented. But the jury's still out as to whether he can be great so this is Jerry's team now the niners to return to excellence he'll have to lead the way and today the NFL media is largely expecting a big game from Jerry as he looks to exact his and the forty niners revenge. Jerry rises made a career out of blowing against Atlanta Fourteen touchdowns twelve games including five on this field a year ago. It's the first quarter and the forty niners second goal. At the Falcons seven Jerry lines up to the left. He looks across the Line of scrimmage and sees guarding him. One on one. Jerry thinks he's all my as young takes the snap. Dion gets up on Jerry Jackson Rice than breaks free and stutter steps to his right. Got Him Jerry thanks dion is now trailing him by a few steps Jerry then raises his left hand to signal his openness to young and weights throw sanders for Jerry. Rice sparkling supply by Sander's man for man bump and run. He had a look at the control center. It had been a touchdown rice. His pissed a Montana throat would have the easy made it seven. Nothing and I wouldn't have Dion Sanders yapping in my ear this entire time dion. Meanwhile nosy got away with one on the next play. Young is sat. And then the Falcons blocked the forty niner field goal attack. It's a huge stop. The crowd is going bananas. The niners then get the ball back. After a defensive stop of their own near midfield young goes back to throw with dion still covering Jerry man to man again again jerry gets open and this time dion can't recover Jerry Rice soap within Atlanta territory working on Dion Sanders as Sapiro another first later in the quarter young tries Jerry again. I down for the niners. Despite Jerry finding space against Dion it's still scoreless in the second quarter when Dion is matched up with a different forty nine receiver section soups of the San Francisco. Forty the Taliban into the second half the niners still lead the falcons seven. Nothing but now Steve. Young is hurt hurt. And they're down to third string quarterback Steve Bono Bono takes the snap throws to Jerry who's lined up to the left against Diaz second down and five look get all the guys they got to change the plan. Throw the ball quickly over the rice sticks ahead down picks up the first down white over Dion Sanders. The niners have the ball near midfield. Dion is guarding Jerry. Man to man on the left dion quickly pumps jerry off the line but bono throws throws the ball to Jerry Anyway. It's still up in the air to sanders true to character dion and his defensive teammates. Try some extra flash on the interception return and suddenly the home crowd is starting to come alive. It's still seven nothing. When Midway through fourth Atlanta drives to inside the forty niner one yard line in the Georgia Dome is now electric on the sideline? MC Hammer wearing fresh new kicks and pants can barely contain his excitement MC hammer in his latest music video Ludik Dion Sanders and Jerry. Glanville I at ten percent Francisco but then in the final minute of forty nine touchdown makes it. Fourteen ten niners just nine seconds remain. The air has gone out of the stadium. Heads hang on the Falcon sideline. Mc Hammer has fallen quiet. The Falcons have the ball just past midfield. They'll need a hail Mary to win it. The question on everyone's mind. How are the Falcons? Truly too legit to quit. The answer comes when Falcons quarterback Billy Joe Oliver Chuck's one high toward the end zone. The falcons down there. The falcons celebrate as if they just won the Super Bowl the head coach Glanville hugs. Mc Hammer who's pumping his fist. Jerry and the niners look on stunned for the first time since eighty celebrates with Atlanta when the regular season ends the Falcons niners both both finished ten and six but the Falcons win the tiebreaker and qualify for the playoffs over San Francisco. Atlanta isn't done. The Falcons win. They're wild card game. Before falling in the divisional round but a postseason trip is a huge step forward for dion who is also named to his first pro bowl the first east of what looks like many. It's late December. The day after the season sitting at his locker at the forty niners practice facility in Santa Clara. Jerry is overcome or come by a weird empty feeling for the first time in his career. He is in the postseason for many players. This would only be a mild disappoint a setback. Too quickly shrug off for Jerry. Who always holds himself to an almost impossible standard? It's a catastrophe that motivates him. MM to work even harder as the rest of the League. Settles into the off season. It's now almost midnight. Night on December tenth nineteen ninety-three inside and Atlanta Hotel Room Sherry. Rice can't sleep tomorrow. The forty niners are playing the falcons. This and he can't get his mind off the cornerback. He knows he'll see right in front of his face mask all game long Dion Sanders setting aside all the prime time antics. The Limos the entourage Jerry knows how great of a player Dion has become. Jerry's still remembers nineteen ninety-one one two seasons ago when the Falcon Sweat Jerry's Niners Dion had outperformed Jerry and kept him out of the playoffs. Sure the forty niners had the better year or a ninety two. They went a league best fourteen in two before falling to the young arrogant and super talented cowboys. Twenty to ten in the NFC title game at candlestick but that season. Jerry didn't get his shot at revenge at Dion. You see last October Dion. Didn't join the Falcons on their annual trip up to San Francisco as if all pro football ability wasn't enough. He's still giving Major League baseball ago after a couple of years in the Yankees Organization Innovation Dion signed with the local Atlanta Braves. Initially with the promise to shut down his baseball season when football started which was then revised playing both at the same time. So during last year's Falcons visit to California Dion was busy playing in the world series hitting four seventy seventy with two doubles and five stolen bases. Here Jerry was busy gearing up for battle with his teammates and dion was leaving his teammates. Behind Take Limos private jets to baseball stadiums to Jerry. That's just not right. Rice was disappointed last fall. All he wanted his revenge without de on on the field. Jerry and the niners passing attack had free rein rice pulled in a hundred and eighty three yards and two touchdowns including one that went for eighty yards the niners vaporized Atlanta fifty. Six seventeen dion had been in uniform for the rematch last November and right there on Monday night football. The niners dismantled the Falcons again. This time forty one two three but in that game dion made life hard for Jerry who only caught four passes for forty five yards this year. Is Jerry's chance for revenge in his hotel room. A few months later in Nineteen ninety-three Jerry now visualizes lining up against dion most defensive backs. He knows he can beat on one. Move Jerry Studies all the cornerbacks her back tendencies and catalogs them in his head. He knows how to beat them. Dion though is an extraordinary case. He's so fast that it requires extra effort effort a double or triple move just to get by. Jerry stays up all night thinking about it. Little does rice now on this night and on every other evening. Before the two of ever gone head-to-head Dion lays awake as well knowing he has to face Jerry Rice all week Diaz been watching game film. Jerry running routes He's been practicing the footwork he'll need to defend Jerry's moves and tonight he's obsessively replaying in his mind the moment four years ago when Jerry toasted did him man to man for an easy touchdown late the next afternoon at the Georgia Dome. More than sixty. Four Thousand Falcons Falcons fans are going on. Today's game will have a major effect on each team's chances. Moving forward for the forty niners a victory here would improve their record to ten and three that would put them two and a half games ahead of Dallas for Homefield advantage throughout the playoffs last year. The forty niners couldn't beat the cowboys had home in candlestick so winning in Dallas would be that much harder. For Dionne in the Falcons after starting the season Owen Five. They've have now won five of seven if they can beat the forty niners. They'll have at least a shot at the playoffs on the first play from scrimmage dion is covering Jerry man to man. Jerry looks at young WHO's barking out signals out of the corner of his eye. Jerry sees a black glove extend toward him. This is odd Jerry thinks until it registers dion is offering jerry. A handshake rice is floor. He thinks this guy serious does dion on actually expect me to shake his hand right here right now. Who is he trying to get in my head? It's not gonNa work for who knows. Maybe it's sincere a gesture before before we do battle wait does not know this is a battle whatever diaz up to rice thinks this is no time for such nonsense we can shake hands After the game so Jerry ignores it and then he goes to work. Sports wars is brought to you by wicks. You deserve a website. That's as dynamic as you are whether it's for your business or your blog or beekeeping or or hear me out and my business idea pizza blimp- we go up there. It's heated we bring some pies and joy incredible views and just chill. It's perfect for birthdays. Anniversaries renewing your vows et Cetera. Let me build my pizza blimp site and business on Wick. So whatever your thing is you can turn it into a unique website on Wicks dot com use the intuitive editor to get online fast or go deep with advanced code capabilities. 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His best is to get Jerry Rice's head the niners first drive of the game goes deep into Falcon territory on the right side. Jerry is being covered one on one by Dion but with plenty plenty of cushion. Jerry knows Steve Young can put the ball in the right spot. This one's ending in the end zone young goes back to throw around the ten yard. Line Jerry cuts to the middle and gains inside position. Dion tells himself just back-off Bait young len think Jerry's open young sees Jerry free three and launches the ball. Jerry sees the spiral coming at him. He can now practically smell the touchdown Jerry starts to get a hand on it but at the last pass Moment Dion Beats Jerry to the ball picks it off. Primetime is immediately tackled. Then spikes the ball in celebration when the niners. There's get the ball back. Jerry is looking for payback inside. The forty nine or twenty young fines is number one target heading across the middle with dion closely trailing rice. Catch the ball moving left and then quickly pivots and spins back right completely. Faking out dion on another play Jerry shakes dion one on one and catches an easy toss from young for a nice game. Jerry's on a roll now. Dion meanwhile is steaming. He's got to pay. He thinks rice can't interest. Be running around gaining easy yards with no consequences. I've got to send a message. Once again jerry catches a short pass from young with Atlanta playing in a soft zone own Jerry spins and fakes out a defender then heads upfield and POW. He gets hit hard. Jerry looks up and looming above him. Is Dion on his bell. Still Ringing Jerry shakes it off and thanks okay. Now it's on. This dude is one hundred and sixty five pounds if he wears all his stupid jewelry around his neck. He's not getting another. Look like that ever on me. It's the second half and the niners leads seventeen. Seven Jerry is still matched up against dion rice then explodes off the line but dion is right with Jerry every step of the way sanders. This is nothing speed on speed off the top Alice. Chicken into high gear. Jerry wanted White Line of scrimmage ball to the could not have been thrown better young touchdown run gives the niners commanding twenty four to seven lead heading into the fourth. But to Rice's horror the niners crumble after multiple turnovers on special teams and several Atlanta Atlanta scores including rising touchdown. The Falcons now lead twenty seven twenty four. Just twenty eight seconds. Remain the niners. Have the final shot. Jerry knows the ball is coming his way. The Problem Sodas everyone in the stadium especially beyond young then throws a pass the sideline to Jerry. Dion sees it the whole time jumps in front and intercepts it. He thumps his chest and celebration as the Isis. The game for the Falcons. Jerry is disgusted and now there's no doubt who can claim the edge in this matchup. Even sportscenter makes a ruling twenty seven twenty four. The Falcons win at really was dion over rice. Jerry had six catches one hundred five yards sanders picked off a pair of passes edge to the neon man had its February. Sixth Nineteen ninety-four Honolulu Hawaii Jerry. Jerry Rice is surrounded by gorgeous beaches palm trees crystal blue water. It's the type of setting people work all year to enjoy peace and quiet but the the inside of Jerry's mind is no heavenly paradise. It's more like a Kramden malfunctioning. New York City subway car for the eighth straight year. He's here for the NFL NFL pro bowl. Most players. See this as a vacation but not Jerry. nope he's here to work. It's been two agonizing weeks since the forty niners were eliminated again by the cocky trash-talking cowboys. This time. The forty niners were beat down in front of sixty five thousand thousand rowdy cowboy fans thirty eight to twenty one and worst of all yet again. The niners had no one to slow down the tall physical Keflavik wideouts of the cowboys. Who went on to win their second straight Super Bowl so here in Hawaii Jerry's already obsessing over next season? He's thirty thirty one still in his prime. But Jerry knows the cowboys aren't going anywhere and could spoil the back half of his hall of fame career if he can't find a way to beat them mm-hmm as sap the cowboys. Stars quarterback Troy Aikman League. MVP Emmett Smith and unstoppable receiver. Michael Irvin are all in their twenties in the heart of if they're primes even more their crafty owner. Jerry Jones is always angling and conniving to make new moves to improve the team the niners meanwhile aren't getting any younger anger. If something big doesn't change Jerry knows the niners slide toward a relevance will only speed up. Jerry's blood is also boiling oiling. About a magazine article he recently read it ranked him Jerry Rice as the NFL's third-best receiver behind Shannon Sharpe and Michael Irvin third third. Best Rice. Thanks are you kidding. Making matters worse both guys are here laughing it up around the pool with the League's other stars. Jerry is sulking when he spots a relaxed and happy looking Irvine. Jerry calmly approaches him and says hey I want you to know I'm already training for next year. Ervine Ervin just chuckles. He's hardly one to worry about work when there's a party to enjoy this just makes rice even more upset a couple of months later. Diane is wearing a green suit decorated with dollar signs and riding on a bus packed with beautiful women. Who are his backup? Dancers is on tour promoting his upcoming rap album titled what Else Primetime with Major League Baseball on strike. Dion has plenty of free time. Some might say say too much free time. And he's trying to make the most of it dion off the field opportunities have been skyrocketing lately unlike Jerry Dion has a wide variety of endorsements like the two million dollar deal. He just signed to be a spokesperson for Sega's video games after his tour Dion faces a decision Asia for the first time in his career. He's an unrestricted free agent. He can pretty much go anywhere he wants in the League. The reason he's happy to look around is after some late season hoped the falcons once again slips then lost their final three games. They finished sixth and ten the same record. They finished swift in nineteen ninety-two Glanville was fired. Soon after for a while now dion had a voice in his head telling him you're going nowhere with the Falcons and you need a bigger brighter spotlight for all his superb. Play Dion Teams Beside that one playoff appearance ninety one have been losers and losing isn't good for legacies or hall of fame prospects so dion joined by MC Hammer embarks on another tour to find a new NFL home. He flies all over the place including to Miami New Orleans and Kansas City. Walking through some airport. At this point it's all a blur dion cell cell phone rings. It's Nike asking where he'll be playing next year. He tells them man. I'm going to Miami Dion then calls star Miami quarterback Dan Marino he says. Hey Dan it's me primetime telling you I'm all in Miami. Tell those guys I really WanNa play down there. Let's make it happen. Moreno tells him love to have you here. Prime I'll see what I can do more than anything. Dion knows that head coach. Don Shula's dolphins are a winning franchise. Plus Dion would be close to home and he could fish. A lot of favorite hobby of his Marino agrees to restructure his dolphins contract to fit dion under the league salary cap but when Dion. Here's Miami's offer. It's still way too. Low Dion offended New Orleans then offers dion four years seventeen million dollar deal his best offer yet it would make him the second highest paid defensive player in Football Dion decides to keep his options open. He travels to Kansas City. But veep gets the feeling that some of the chiefs players don't really want them there meanwhile the NFL's preseason ends and Dionne remains unsigned. It's now September fifth candlestick park for the forty niners regular season opener on Monday night. Football Jerry Rice takes the field two touchdowns Shyam Jim Brown's all-time record for good measure. You catch US three walk. Well what do you think that is a good Jimmy Brown it but Jerry right but Jerry still isn't satisfied with anything short of winning it all. He needs to be not just the best player but the best player on the best team again. It's why he worked like crazy all off season long and reported to training camp early like always in week to the niners travel to Kansas City. The chiefs chiefs quarterback is none other than Joe Montana who left San Francisco after the nineteen ninety-two season. He's now thirty eight years old and in his final. NFL All season. Jerry was devastated when Montana left it was as though the franchise had given up on Moses Montana throws two touchdowns as the chiefs win win even worse. Richard Dent. The forty niners top pass. rusher goes down with an injury just two weeks in Jerry's goal of a super bowl already starting to look look bleak meanwhile dion sanders remains unsigned. But that wouldn't last long and the unfolding news surrounding fate would soon grip Jerry. The niners in the entire. NFL in the next episode Dion makes his big free agency decision. His choice will reshape the NFL's balance of power and for one franchise in particular. It would promise the season filled with conflict drama. And just maybe a little bit of winning magic. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of sports wars. If you did you can subscribe on Apple. PODCAST spotify Google PODCAST WONDERING DOT COM. Or wherever you're listening to this right now if you're listening on a smartphone tap or swipe wipe over the cover art of this podcast. You'll find the episode notes and some offers from our sponsors by supporting our sponsors. You help us offer you the show for free if you like. What you've heard we'd love for you to give us a five star rating and tell your friends how to subscribe another way to support us is to answer a short survey at wondering dot com slash survey and and tell us what sports were stories? You'd like to hear and a quick note about the conversations you've been hearing we can't know exactly what was said but this dialogue is based on our best research. I'm your host Dan Rubenstein I also co host to college football. podcast called the solid verbal with three episodes dropping every week during the season. Louis Lazare are wrote. This story edited by Caleb this injure produced by your own skull and gave Goodwin sound design by Ryan. Sat are executive producers. Are Jenny Lower Backman Marshal Louis and non Lopez for wondering.