Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rhett Will Feel at Home Back Has Fond Memories of Jacksonville

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rhett Will Feel at Home Back Has Fond Memories of Jacksonville

Article excerpt

Errict Rhett doesn't say much about one of his favorite memories

to his new buddy.

Some things, you don't have to say.

So, when Rhett -- a running back for the Baltimore Ravens --

and Eric Zeier, the Ravens' fourth-year quarterback, talk about

traveling to Jacksonville this week, the most memorable game of

Rhett's career won't often come up. But Rhett will think about

it. And he's sure Zeier will, too.

"He remembers it enough -- I don't have to talk about it,"

Rhett said with a laugh as the Ravens (1-1) prepared to play the

Jaguars (2-0) at Alltel Stadium Sunday at 4:15 p.m.

Rhett remembers, because Sunday's game will be his first in

what used to be the Gator Bowl since October 30, 1993. On that

rainy day, Rhett -- then a senior at the University of Florida

-- rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-26 victory

over the Georgia Bulldogs. Zeier's Georgia Bulldogs.

"I had a lot of good games in that stadium," Rhett said.

"Hopefully, that can continue."

Since that game, he has had good games, too -- just not in the

last two years, years that have been tougher than anything he

imagined his first two seasons, when he was the go-to back for

the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs drafted him in the second

round, and his knee-high, head-low style didn't produce many

breakaway runs, but it produced a 1,011-yard season in 1994 and

a 1,207-yard season in 1995.

The next season, however, he held out 94 days, missing seven

games. He started seven games and rushed for 539 yards, but the

Bucs drafted Warrick Dunn the following year, and Rhett rushed

for just 96 yards on 31 carries, enduring what he called "one of

my most difficult times in life.

"It was kind of disappointing, but there were a lot of fun

years in the beginning," he said. "You have to appreciate the

tough years, because those are the times you find out you're

growing to be a man."

Toughest was playing three seasons for losing teams, then

spending last season -- the Bucs' biggest in nearly two decades

-- a forgotten backup.

"I was always the focal point, and to see guys eight guys get

picked off the team for the Pro Bowl and me not one of the top

guys?" he said. "That kind of hurt. I could have never imagined

that before. Since Little League, they picked All-Conference,

All-State, All-American -- I was always one of them, so that was

kind of difficult. But, I'm here today. I'm still standing, and

still going."

In February, the Bucs traded him to the Ravens for a thirdround

selection, something he appreciated because he worried the Bucs

might not allow him to leave. He earned the starting job over

Jay Graham, but after he gained 12 yards on five carries Sunday,

Graham rushed for 31 yards on 12 carries. …

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