Jerry Rice spent some of his favorite days on the green practice fields next to the railroad tracks that run behind the San Francisco 49ers' training complex.
That's where Rice honed his game over countless hours as he became the NFL's most prolific receiver -- and that's why he felt those fields were an appropriate place to say his latest goodbye to the sport he revolutionized.
Rice signed a one-day contract to retire with the 49ers yesterday, officially ending the receiver's matchless career back where it began.
Rice, who scored more touchdowns than anyone in league history, shed no tears during a short ceremony on the fields at the training complex opened in 1988 by the 49ers, his team for the first 16 of his 20 seasons.
``I would like to put the uniform on and run on that football field, but I think it's time to move on," Rice said, gesturing toward the fields where the current 49ers were practicing. ``I feel welcome here. I feel like this is my home, and this is something I'll never forget."
Rice, who will turn 44 in October, hasn't played since parting ways with the Broncos before last season, holding his first retirement news conference last September in Denver. He spent three seasons in Oakland after leaving the 49ers, then played a final year with Seattle.
Rookie's return lifts Panthers
Carolina rookie DeAngelo Williams
returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers' 19-10 home win over the Miami Dolphins in an exhibition game. Daunte Culpepper
was effective for Miami, completing 14 of 19 passes for 130 yards in one half, but the Dolphins couldn't get into the end zone with him leading the offense . . . The Browns acquired center Lennie Friedman
from the Bears for a 2007 conditional draft choice. Friedman has played in 65 games, including 32 starts at guard and center, in seven seasons with Denver, Washington, and Chicago. Friedman will compete with former Patriot Ross Tucker
for the starting job . . . Terrell Owens
missed another Cowboys practice, virtually assuring he will miss his third straight exhibition game. Owens said Wednesday he aggravated his left hamstring injury by returning to practice too soon last week . . . Drew Henson
was released by the Cowboys, a day after coach Bill Parcells
said the quarterback wouldn't be on the roster this season . . . Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell
missed most of practice with a sore groin, although the injury isn't expected to keep him out of tomorrow night's exhibition game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium . . . Raiders center Jake Grove
received good news when doctors told him he will not need surgery on his injured left shoulder and should need only 3-4 weeks to heal . . . Chargers rookie left tackle Marcus McNeill
had minor surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand but isn't expected to miss more than tomorrow night's exhibition game against Seattle.
© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.