Sidney Rice said it was "a tough decision" for him to leave the Vikings in free agency during his introductory news conference with the Seattle media on Saturday. (A big thank you to Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times for passing along these quotes.)
"It was a lot of things," the wide receiver said when asked why he was changing teams at such a young age (24). "It was a tough decision. I love those guys over in Minnesota - my teammates and everything like that. But unfortunately I had to move on. I'm here, I'm a Seahawk and I'm looking forward from here on out, no looking back."
Rice, who had a Pro Bowl season in 2009 but missed much of last season after having hip surgery, said nothing from what happened last season contributed to his decision to leave.
"No sir," he said. "[I] came in around the 10th or 11th game off of my injury, was able to get in and make a couple plays. There's no bad blood between Minnesota. I just want to put that out there right now. It's a great organization. I'm still good friends with a lot of people around there. Like I said, it was just time for me to move on."
It was no secret that Rice wanted a contract extension after his outstanding 2009 season and was not happy when he did not get it. Rice reportedly signed a five-year deal with Seattle that could be worth $44 million and includes $18.5 million guaranteed.
Rice's news conference came on the same day that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said former Viking Tarvaris Jackson was his starting quarterback. Jackson also joined Seattle this week, agreeing to an $8 million, two-year contract. Rice and Jackson are good friends and Rice said the situation in Seattle will be better for the quarterback.
"It's going to be great for Tarvaris," Rice said. "I felt like in Minnesota, he was never let loose. He was never allowed to play comfortably like I know he can play, and I feel like he'll get that opportunity out here to prove all those guys that think he's not an NFL quarterback wrong."
Asked why Jackson wasn't comfortable, Rice said: "Just certain things. He was never relaxed. He was always uptight, afraid to make mistakes and things like that. But as I said, I'm looking forward to him getting out here and letting it loose."
Rice also said the fact that former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now holds the same job in Seattle will help.
"It's great," Rice said. "It's always good to be around familiar people that you know well. Tarvaris is one of my closest friends ever since I came into the league. I used to hang out at his place all the time and vice versa, he used to come over to my place and it was like that. So I feel comfortable around him. Also, Bevell. I know the offense and didn't have to learn anything new. Made a couple of tweaks in the playbook but nothing I can't pick up right away so when I'm able to get out here, I'm ready to step right on the field and be effective."