M&F: You caught 92 passes for 1,211 yards last year at age 40. How are you able to maintain such a high level of play at an age when other players are retired?

JERRY RICE: My passion for the game is what allows me to maintain my level of play. My hard work in the off-season has contributed mightily to my success. In addition to that, I do a pretty good job of watching my diet to be able to maintain my health.

M&F: What does your current weight-training regimen consist of, in-season and off-season?

JERRY: There really is no difference between my in-season and off-season programs. It changed a little bit when I moved from the 49ers to the Raiders simply because their programs are different. But I usually lift upper body about three times a week, and lower body about two times per week. I've also begun to use the Compex muscle stimulator, which has helped rebuild my quad from my injury in 1997 [fractured left kneecap].

M&F: What makes up the remainder of your training?

JERRY: I do a lot of running, and I do it every day. I run on a track, I run hills and I work the stair-stepper extremely hard. I do some type of cardio every day. In addition, I have a passion for golf, and that helps me stay fit, too. The remainder of my training program consists of catching the ball and running routes – I do that every day, as well.

M&F: How has your training evolved in your 18 years in the NFL?

JERRY: When I came into the league in 1985, I was a little naive about the whole thing, as most players are. But in my second year, [former 49er running back] Roger Craig introduced me to his workout regimen; I have to give Roger a lot of credit for getting me on track and getting me started with the workout routine I'm in today. He was tremendous about helping me prepare for my career.

M&F: What are your staple lifts?

JERRY: My staple lifts today are squats – I do a lot of squats, I do a lot of leg work and I do quite a bit of benching. I don't lift overly heavy weight, but I obviously do enough to keep myself in shape and keep my legs strong. And again, I use the Compex machine to supplement my weight training.

M&F: What has been the biggest difference between playing with the Raiders and the 49ers?

JERRY: The biggest difference for me is that my career was reborn [with the Raiders]. It was a new opportunity, and it sort of gave me a facelift if you will, and got me back on track as far as playing at the level at which I'm comfortable. My last few years with the 49ers were difficult based on a lot of circumstances. And that's the difference – besides the fact that I'm now wearing black vs. red!

M&F: Which wide receivers in the NFL do you most admire?

JERRY: Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and, of course, my playing partner Timmy Brown.

M&F: How has the wide receiver position changed since you entered the league?

JERRY: I don't think the position has changed so much; I think it's the defenses that have changed. Defenses are much more complex than they once were, so you're constantly making adjustments and trying to beat them based on what they're trying to do from a strategic point of view.

M&F: Who's the best quarterback you've ever played with?

JERRY: Joe Montana. And that's no disrespect to Steve Young, because we had a lot of great years together. But if you're talking about who's the best pure quarterback, I think I have to give it to Joe.

M&F: How do you put into perspective the fact that you are without a doubt the best receiver to ever play the game?

JERRY: I never think about it. I would never call myself the best receiver who ever played the game. I've got too much respect for the overall game to even consider that.

Interview Extra: The Rice Files

Age: 41
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200 pounds
College: Mississippi Valley State (Itta Bena)
Games played: 270
Super Bowl titles: 3
NFL Records
1,000-yard seasons: 14
Touchdowns, career: 203
Receptions, career: 21,597
Receiving yards in a season: 1,848
Consecutive games with a receiving touchdown: 13

Note: Statistics entering 2003 season.