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Simeon waiting for a call

Posted Mar 29, 2011 by Ira Kaufman

Updated Mar 29, 2011 at 11:27 AM


TAMPA—Simeon Rice says he’s ready to help.

Rice hasn’t played in the NFL since 2007, but the former Pro Bowl defensive end appears willing to put his fledgling film career on hold if Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris reaches out for a free spirit who turned 37 last month.

“All I know is my services are ready if they’re ready,’’ Rice said after his 30-minute short, “When I Was King,’’ was screened at the Gasparilla Film Festival in Hyde Park. “When Raheem smartens up before I turn 40, whenever they need a guy off the edge, just call.’‘

Rice was half-kidding. In his heart, he knows that call isn’t going to come. Not that the Bucs don’t need a player with his former skills off the edge.

Improving at defensive end is a top priority as Tampa Bay prepares for next month’s draft and Rice was one of the dominant pass rushers of his era with 122 career sacks. He made everyone around him better after the Bucs signed him in 2001 as a free agent from Arizona.

“Whenever they need a guy off the edge, just call,’’ Rice said. “I’m sitting there at the gate (One Buc Place) saying hit me up when you need me.’‘

The Bucs took a lot of unjustified heat for releasing Rice on the brink of 2007 training camp. They made a smart decision because Rice never fully recovered from a shoulder problem that initially didn’t look like a career-ending injury.

His first effort as a director is a light comedy shot with some flair and impressive production values. Rice was a happy man as former Bucs Ryan Nece and Sabby Piscitelli attended the Hyde Park screening.

Rice’s playing days are long over and he’s serious about his new career after learning his craft at film school. “When I Was King’’ is a campy romp about a guy trying to juggle four women at the same time.

Something tells me the story line wasn’t exactly a stretch for big No. 97.

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