NFL's Diva Wide Receivers Can't Afford Outbursts with Playoffs in Sight

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIDecember 16, 2013

Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) talks with head coach Jason Garrett in the second half against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. The Packers beat the Cowboys 37-36. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams have been dealing with "diva" wide receivers for quite some time now. Even though we don't have the antics of players like Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens on display anymore, a new crop of talented-yet-emotional receivers are on hand.

Week 15 brought about a couple of outbursts from Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson and Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant.

Both of these players are quite familiar with the "diva" tag, as they have both been accountable for numerous past transgressions.

However, with both teams fighting for a spot in this year's playoffs, this is no time for these players to become distractions.

NFC East Standings Through Week 15

During the Cowboys' 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 15, Bryant decided to leave the field with 1:21 remaining on the game clock. It's understandable that Bryant was frustrated with the loss, but his act brings with it a negative view of the team.

According to Kevin Patra of, even Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was upset with Bryant's actions. Said Sanders, "Dez Bryant leaving the field was absolutely, 100 percent, positively wrong. Can't do it under any circumstances."

On his weekly radio show in Dallas, head coach Jason Garrett defended Bryant: "Dez is one of the great team guys I've ever been around. He loves his teammates, but you have to understand how to handle yourself. He'll learn from this situation."

Bryant himself was later interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He was immediately remorseful for his actions:

I was wrong...It didn't have anything to do with my teammates. I just...I couldn't watch Green Bay kneel the ball down on the field after a tough loss like that. I was very emotional. I cried when I got into the locker room. I didn't want to show that stuff on the sideline.

Whether you agree with Bryant's actions or not, one thing is certain: This type of behavior brings about extra attention to a football team that is fighting for a chance to claim a postseason berth. There is no reason to bring additional scrutiny to the team at this point in the season—especially after a heartbreaking loss.

Speaking of negative attention: DeSean Jackson.

Jackson threw a tantrum on the sidelines after a Nick Foles interception during a 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Teammates LeSean McCoy and Riley Cooper, among others, had to intervene and walk Jackson away from position coach Bob Bicknell in the midst of the situation.

Jackson explained the situation during an interview with Reuben Frank of Comcast Philadelphia:

It was just a point in the game where you're dealing with a lot of emotions involved, and it's one of those things that happened...I cannot really discuss what happened. That’s what happened, it is what it is.

Jackson continued:

At the end of the day, we lost the game. We felt very comfortable and confident that we should be able to come out here and win, we just didn't play good enough. We didn't play good enough to win, and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.

The Eagles were unable to come away with a win on Sunday; however, does that give Jackson a reason to throw a temper tantrum on the sidelines? It is understandable that he was frustrated, but a sense of professionalism must come in to play at some point. There must be a way for Jackson to think to himself, "maybe this isn't the right thing to do at this time."

Both of these receivers have used the word "emotional" to explain their outbursts. Being emotional is completely fine—all NFL players are emotional; football is an emotional sport. After all, it is a hard-fought game with plenty of ups and downs for everyone involved.

Players like Bryant and Jackson must realize that they can be emotional, but there is a certain way to handle those emotions.

As these teams continue to compete for a playoff berth this season, the last thing they need are more incidents like the ones committed in Week 15. Distractions can be the undoing of a football team—we have all seen it happen before.

Both of these players are now NFL veterans—Bryant is in his fourth year and Jackson is in his sixth year. There is no excuse for them to act as if they have never been in a frustrating situation before.

These wide receivers must be made aware of their actions and how they can affect their teams going forward.

With the playoffs in sight, there is no excuse for these divas to continue acting in this manner.