Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice acknowledged today that he did not play Sunday against the Bears because he was "feeling significant discomfort Friday and Saturday," and for the first time said the surgery he underwent on his hip in late August was a "very serious" procedure.
Rice was responding to a report in the Star Tribune today that laid out his options for playing this season. He must be activated from the physically unable to perform list by next Wednesday or he will be out for the year. The Vikings have said it's Rice's decision when he returns -- he has been practicing since Nov. 3 -- meaning all the focus and pressure has been on him when it comes to him potentially playing.
Wrote Rice on his blog: "Someone out here wrote a column today saying that I wasn’t going to come back and talked about how it related to my contract situation. But you can ask any of the news people around here, not once have I spoken about a contract or wanted money. My objective is to get out on the field and play when I’m healthy and it has nothing to do with my contract.
"If you know anything about the CBA, if the contract doesn’t get done I still have to be here two more years anyway, so what’s going on now is definitely not about my contract. That’s a bunch of bull. I wouldn’t dare do the fans or my teammates like that."
That's somewhat confusing given that Rice signed a four-year contract in 2007 and right now there is no collective bargaining agreement in place for 2011 and beyond. Rice seems to be operating under the impression that the CBA will be the same as it was this past March, when players needed six years of service to become unrestricted free agents, but that isn't going to happen.
The reality is no one knows what Rice's status will be when it comes to his contract after this season. Rice could argue he thinks the Vikings are going to put the franchise tag on him but that tag might not be around.
Contract situation or no contract situation, it would be foolish to think Rice isn't considering his future as he weighs his options.
While no one doubted the surgery on Rice's hip was serious, he had refused to even say that before today. “It’s hard," Rice said when asked about the difficulty of this decision. "It’s very hard. But at the same time I want to be out there on the field, I want to be playing, I want to be out there with my teammates having fun with those guys. It doesn’t always happen like that. But know that I am pushing to be out there.”
When asked if it was possible he won't play this year, Rice said: “I’m pushing for Sunday every week. The same thing I did last week. I’m practicing hard, taking as many snaps as I can at practice to see how it’s going to feel the next day.”
Vikings coach Brad Childress said no five times when asked if he was trying to sway Rice to play. "It's not coercion," Childress said. "You don’t want that. You don’t want somebody to be compliant. You want somebody to be ready to go and excited to go and can go."
When asked if he was confident Rice would return, Childress said: "I don't know. I know what I see with my eyes in terms of him practicing. How many snaps he can give you, how many realistic snaps, would he break down again? Those are all things you have to guess on."