New Era Wide Receivers Catching Balls and Trouble

McCord RobertsCorrespondent IJune 16, 2009

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 1:  Wide receiver Plaxico Burress (2L) of the New York Giants is led to a squad car for transport to his arraignment outside the NYPD 17th Precinct December 1, 2008 in New York City. Burress, who is expected to face a charge of criminal possession of a weapon, was released from the hospital yesterday after accidentally shooting himself in the right thigh at a nightclub in Manhattan on the night of November 28.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

What is the deal with the NFL’s modern wide receiver compared to any other position on offense?

For some reason that one position seems to create the most controversy on and off the field than any other. Rarely do we ever hear about the quarterback, running back, tight end, or offensive lineman in the same light that we see the receivers.

The NFL is loaded with brash talkers, but for reason most of them gravitate to the wide receiver position. Some of loudest, most controversial players in the league are wide outs ranging from Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, to the younger Randy Moss.

With the big talkers, we also get the headlines of NFL jurisprudence stories littered with receivers. Plaxico Burress, Brandon Marshall, Donte Stallworth, Matt Jones, Antonio Bryant, and Chris Henry are leading the charge for NFL players in the court room with a wide ranging of personal errors that leave many in the sports world shaking their heads.

The worst instance of a wide-out who went too far was former Carolina Panthers Rae Carruth who is in prison for being part of a conspiracy that killed his girlfriend. That might be the worst moment in league history for one of their active players.

So what is it about this particular position?

In the case of some of the top receivers in the league like Owens, his brashness is his confidence. His repeated tangles with coaches, teammates, and media is just part of his personality.

None of his on field banter has led to criminal activity, but it is an element that more and more receivers coming into the league gravitate to, as if being loud is how you become great.

Owens is what he is and teams that buy his services know it. They are willing to take that risk because Owens does win. He makes big plays and the more he pumps his ego and confidence level up, the better he is. 

Perhaps it’s part of the environment growing up in that generates this type of attitude, but we don’t see the same things out of other positions so grossly like we do in receivers. We don’t see many loud mouth quarterbacks or running backs.

One theory may be that the backfield combo of QB and RB take the most licks handling the ball the most and they’d be well served to not irritate and motivate the defense? A good wide receiver may only get five catches a game and with sideline passes and end zone catches, the pounding is at a minimum even more.

They can jabber-jaws all day long and won’t have to pay for it like a running back would if he trash talked.

The criminal aspect aside from the fun banter that many of the current receivers exude on the field is completely different and very troubling. End zone dances and emphatic first down dances after the catch is all in fun, and in some ways despite irritating many, it adds to the game.

However, criminal activity and public nuisance is not funny at all and there are just too many of them right now.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has done a fantastic job in laying down a strict policy for his players to follow with hopes of not ridding the league of certain type of players, but helping them make better decisions along the way with fear of severe life altering penalties.

It’s hard for the average working man or woman to relate and understand what these guys are doing. They have money and amenities that most of us will never see, yet go out, get liquored up, and play the, “Do you know who I am” card when any altercation arises whether it‘s a fight with their girlfriend, a policeman, a bar patron, or killing someone while driving drunk.

These guys feel privileged, and they are, but leave the attitude on the field.

Whatever happened to the character's and play of receivers like Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, Art Monk, and Tim Brown? Legends of the game at their position and total class acts, where did they go, and how come none of their attitude and style rubbed off in the new millennium of receivers? 

Well, not all is bad in wide receiver land.

It’s good to know that a player like Larry Fitzgerald is out there to be a role model for the up and coming receivers of tomorrow that tells them if you just go out and play well on every play, you’ll get the ball thrown to you and you don‘t have to tell everyone about how good you are, they’ll tell you.

Getting recognized and accolades from just being good, wow, what a concept!