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Rice enjoys life atop the food chain

By ROGER MILLS

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 9, 2001


Defensive end Simeon Rice has played football with Emmitt Smith and basketball with Michael Jordan. He's a Chicago native with style, skill and something to say. This is Rice, on a roll: RM: If you were commissioned to make a new Mount Rushmore, which four Americans would you carve in stone?

SR: That's easy. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bill Clinton and Michael Jordan.

RM: Now, MLK is pretty obvious. But Malcolm X had his detractors and a lot of people would question Bill and Michael.

SR: Malcolm was radical, but part of his radical approach was based on the time, the era he was living in. It was a radical time, he needed to be that way. He wasn't a conformist but his message was still strong and we were able to grow from it.

RM: And Bill?

SR: Because he represented what a man is in the office of power. He went through his ups and downs and showed that it was okay to be, sometimes, politically incorrect. I think he showed that he was a man, not a god. He made mistakes and learned from it. What was intriguing was he did some great things, cared about people, but didn't have it all together in his own life. To me, he symbolized what men are across the world.

RM: And Michael?

SR: What Michael has done, in retrospect, is unmatched. To me, he is what greatness is. You can't write that type of life in sports. He changed sports, not just for basketball but for all professional sports. He went past the norm. He went past Newton's law of gravity. What comes up doesn't have to come down. He kept going.

RM: Should M.J. come back?

SR: If you're looking at the history, as a fan, and saying you don't want to see him fall off, fine. But, for that man, it's like a doctor who retires and comes out of retirement to do what he wants to do. It's his love.

RM: Are you a basketball player who plays football?

SR: I'm an athlete that plays football. I was a type of kid that did everything well. In basketball I was a point guard or (shooting) guard. I had the shake-and-bake, the crossover and all that stuff. When I was in eighth grade I dunked on an 11-foot rim. I chose football. I had my pick.

RM: Any regrets?

SR: None. I'm at the top of the food chain at what I do. I did try the CBA and the USBL, but all that did was take me out of the realm I'm in and made me respect where I am today. Sometimes, it's not about having it all and doing it all. Sometimes, it's about doing one thing that's rare very well.

RM: Is there a place in Chicago where you can go and never have a problem getting into?

SR: Chicago is no problem for me. There is still some hysteria of me playing in the league. But, the Cheesecake Factory is one of the spots. They take care of me.

RM: Do you feel guilty when you get to jump line and people have been waiting for a while?

SR: No. I feel accommodated. I feel fortunate. It's one of those perks that comes with being a celebrity. I don't feel (like I'm) better than anyone, but I do take it in stride. There are times when I keep it on the low lows.

RM: Ever notice that rich people never pay for a dang thing?

SR: It's one of the first things I had to conceptualize when I got to the league. Before the league, I wanted Nikes and had to find money to buy them. Now, I get them all free and I can buy as many as I want. At the beginning it was difficult to understand, but now I know they are just perks. They don't make you better than anybody else. When it's over, once the light is turned off, you're just like everybody else. RM: Eat your steak rare, medium or well-done?

SR: Well-done.

RM: Iced tea or soda?

SR: Pop. I say pop. I'm from the north. I guess I like Sprite.

RM: Your new radio show debuted in Tampa last week, but you have grand plans, don't you?

SR: My ideal show would be like a Friday night, hip-hop type show. Spin cuts, get the young people involved in the music and active in the audience. Have honeys calling in, giving advice, having it bursting with a lot of energy, flair, attitude and personality. You want young people to want to tune into it because it's that hot. And on FM.

RM: Heard you are a fan of Discovery Channel?

SR: I like to learn about animals, their habits and attitudes and why they are the way they are. It's intriguing. It gives you a brief synopsis of things outside your world. It gives you an understanding of how nature works. It's not about being malicious or mean. It's just the way they are. Like the wolverine, it's just his makeup. He's a bad boy. RM: What do you think of long-distance relationships?

SR: That's all I ever have. I'm at the point where I don't want to have a person around me all the time. That's too mundane. I like to miss them. To see somebody 24-7 can suck the life right out of you.

RM: So marriage is out?

SR: No. It's something I won't entertain until my career is over.

RM: What's the sign of weakness in a man?

SR: Weakness is an unwillingness to grow and accept responsibility. I guess you can say weakness is the failure to acknowledge you have weaknesses.

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