Javon Walker: Prima Donna Wide Receivers' Club Accepts New Member

Sam RobinsonCorrespondent IMarch 1, 2008

It was just a little too perfect.

On opening day in Buffalo last season, the Broncos had their most potent receiving core since 2000, when Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey were each in their primes.

They had Brandon Marshall, the most naturally talented receiver ever to lineup as a Bronco at No. 2, Brandon Stokley, who was Peyton Manning’s Wes Welker, in the slot, and 2006 stud Javon Walker as the go-to guy.

Two wins followed and each understood and thrived in their roles.

Marshall was the perfect possession guy, learning the ropes in his first games as a starter, while Stokley was becoming “Mr. Third Down,” grabbing Jay Cutler’s crucial tosses in the middle of the field.

While those two were vital, Walker was the one who was the deep threat and going to take this passing game to the next level. He was in the process of doing so (17 catches and 220 yards in two games) before re-injuring his knee.

Then it all fell apart.

Cutler had no real deep threat from then on, and Stokley was forced to start, which is not his best role. There were other reasons for the losing season, but Walker's injury was a big part.

Walker would return a shell of his September self in December. He saw far fewer passes as Marshall ascended quicker than most anticipated and became Cutler’s new No. 1 target.

I was getting excited at the end of a completely forgettable season at the thought of a Marshall-Walker combo, which would be the most talented duo in team history (Smith and McCaffrey were more productive, but in terms of sheer talent, I’d take these two any day).

But that dream died Friday as Walker, after two months of whining, got his wish and was released. I never thought I’d say this, but good riddance to the fake No. 84.

After Denver took a chance on Walker, trading a second-round pick for him in 2006 and signing him to the large contract Green Bay wouldn’t give him, he spent two months saying he doesn’t believe he fits there anymore.

For those who don’t speak prima donna wide receiver, here is a loose translation: “My ego simply cannot handle being a No. 2 guy. No matter how good this system is for me, I need to go somewhere, anywhere where they’ll let me be the No. 1.”

This is the classic example of why most teams are weary of giving big money to vocal wide receivers.

These guys cannot be trusted. They have ridiculous mood swings and have no loyalty to their teams. They are the first to turn on their teammates, demand trades or completely mail it in when things don’t go their way.

See T.O., Randy Moss’ Raider tenure, or the current Chad Johnson fiasco for recent instances.

After feeling so sorry for him last New Year’s Day after he watched Darrent Williams die in his arms, I expected a down year. How could anyone re-emerge from that the same?

The Broncos, however, were patient with him and his injury and were set to give him another chance in ’08.

But, much like Owens, Walker changed his mind and showed his true colors this offseason. Now that odd chapter is complete.

He will probably go to a worse team, get about the same amount of money Denver wanted to pay him (he was set for a slight paycut due to his high cap number after his re-injury), and be a No. 1 for a year, then face the same situation.  

From a business perspective, it's not the worst idea, as this year's free-agent receivers' class isn't top-notch, but from a loyalty standpoint, it's pretty low to turn down a guaranteed starting spot from a team that took a chance on you. Especially when a pay raise is likely not forthcoming elsewhere.

I really thought this guy was different and could be molded into a Smith-type player, because the Broncos do not go after “me-first” receivers.

The only example I can think of is Ashley Lelie, but he was doing fine in his role until Walker arrived, and I can understand why Lelie begged to get out of Denver.

He wasn’t even going to start, and, until Stokley last year, the Broncos’ third receivers didn’t see too many balls.

Walker should have taken some advice from the former No. 2 wideout and accepted the Jazzy Jeff role to Marshall’s Fresh Prince, because he has a serious injury history and will not get the money got in Denver.

With a quarterback with serious talent and a future star on the other side, Walker would have almost never been double-teamed and been one of the top No. 2 wideouts in the game.

While I usually pull for ex-Broncos to succeed in their new environments, I could care less about how Javon’s career goes from here on.

He joins my very short list of Bronco players I truly dislike who include Bill Romanowski, Eddie Kennison, Dale Carter, and Travis Henry. 

Now, Denver is in the market for a No. 2 wideout. Here’s hoping it’s Arizona free agent Bryant Johnson, who has been a backup his whole career and would be grateful for the opportunity, unlike the slot’s previous occupant.


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