Steve Largent is one of the greatest players in Seahawks history and perhaps one of the greatest receivers in NFL history.
Jerry Rice also fits into the category of the latter.
What happens when one has already had his number retired, but the other wants to wear the number on his new team?
You get the awkward situation both Largent and Rice encountered when the Seahawks acquired Rice from the Oakland Raiders back in 2004.
Largent’s No. 80 was retired in 1992 by the Seahawks organization, but when Rice joined Seattle twelve years later, he wanted to wear the number, which he had made iconic in San Francisco.
Largent explained on Pro Football Talk on Monday that what happened next
“The Seahawks at the time had a President of the team [Bob Whitsitt]… and he called me saying that Jerry [Rice] wanted to wear number 80 but wanted to ask my permission,” Largent said. “And so I mean Jerry Rice is asking to wear my number, I’m not going to say no and so I said, ‘Sure, that’s fine with me.’ What [Whitsitt] did was he called Jerry Rice and said, ‘Hey, Steve Largent wants you to wear his jersey when you get to Seattle.’ So Jerry said, ‘Well that’s fine, I’ll wear number 80, I thought it was retired but if Steve wants me to wear it, I’ll wear it.’”
Looking back, Largent says Whitsitt’s antics might have been just to scam the two players.
“So [Whitsitt] did a little double whammy on both Jerry and myself to ensure that Jerry Rice gets number 80 and [Whitsitt] can sell a bunch of number 80 jerseys or something but it was kind of a scam on both myself and Jerry Rice.”
And such is the story of how Steve Largent’s retired No. 80 was worn one last time, by Jerry Rice.
Rice only ended up playing in 11 games with the Seahawks, recording 25 catches for 362 yards and a trio of touchdowns. He retired the following year.
Largent’s legacy in Seattle is as one of the greatest players to don a Seahawks uniform.
He played his entire 14 year career in Seattle, exactly 200 games and caught 819 passes for more than 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns.
Steve Largent was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995.