NEW ORLEANS - An ESPN employee was reading through the credentials of Cris Carter, Trent Dilfer, Mike Ditka and Jerry Rice before a news conference at the New Orleans Convention Center on Thursday.
When she got to Rice, she introduced him as, "arguably the best receiver in NFL history."
Rice couldn't resist. He interrupted.
"Second best," he said as laughter filled the room.
It was a jab at current 49ers receiver and former Viking Randy Moss, who made headlines earlier in the week when he said he, not Rice, was the best receiver in NFL history.
Later, as Rice sat and talked with reporters, it was obvious Rice is upset with Moss.
"I'm just having fun with it, but I think the thing is I never took any plays off and always gave 100 percent," said Rice, who won three Super Bowls, one Super Bowl MVP and holds most of the league's major career receiving records.
"And also, if you put my numbers up against Randy's, my body of work compared to his work, there's a big difference. I know he said you can't bring the stats into the scenario, but I think that's part of being the best receiver in the game."
Rice went on to say that Moss "probably was the most talented" player in NFL history.
"But along with being the most talented, you also have to work hard," Rice said. "Every season, every play. I was not the most talented, but I was going to outwork you.
"He could have been probably the greatest player to ever play the game. Gifted, 6-foot-5, could run a 4.3, could outjump you. He struck fear into the opponent. But you got to have it here in your heart."
Rice pointed at his chest as he said that. Then he continued.
"This," said Rice, pointing to his Super Bowl ring, "is how I impacted the game. With Super Bowl rings. I'm hoping he can go out there and win his first one on Sunday."
Flacco's expiring contract not an issue
Quarterback Joe Flacco practically shrugged when asked about potentially being a free agent after the Ravens play the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
"It's real simple," said Flacco, who made $6.76 million this year in the final season of his rookie contract. "We didn't agree on a number, and I didn't really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point. ... It's a good problem to have and to be talking about."
The Ravens could slap the franchise tag on Flacco, 28, for 2013 at a cost of about $14.6 million. But if his résumé includes a Super Bowl victory after Sunday, Flacco might cost the Ravens in the $20 million per year range. He already is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.
Black ex-coaches say Rooney Rule is broken
Three black former NFL head coaches -- Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards and Jim Caldwell -- say the league needs to rethink its Rooney Rule for promoting minority hiring after 15 top vacancies (eight head coaching jobs and seven general manager positions) were all filled by white candidates since the regular season ended a month ago.
"I know the concept is good and something we need to do," said Dungy, the former Gophers quarterback and Vikings assistant coach who was with the Indianapolis Colts during the 2006 season when he became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. "Obviously, it's not working the way it should."
No minorities were hired this year to replace the two black coaches who were fired -- Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Lovie Smith in Chicago -- and the one fired black GM, Rod Graves in Arizona.
49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day. "That's not what I feel in my heart. ... I'm sorry if I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments," Culliver said during an hour-long media session. "Hopefully I learn and grow from this experience and this situation."
Unhappy with the hard artificial turf at Tulane University's baseball field, the Ravens moved their main practice to the Saints' facility instead. Because Tulane has broken ground on a new football stadium, the AFC champions were forced to practice in the outfield of the baseball facility Wednesday. Coach John Harbaugh, star linebacker Ray Lewis and several other players said it was "hard on the legs."
NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said he expects independent neurological consultants to be on sidelines during games next season to help diagnose and treat concussions.