NFL Power Rankings: The 10 Biggest (and Best) Diva Wide Receivers of All Time

Dustin HullAnalyst IAugust 19, 2011

NFL Power Rankings: The 10 Biggest (and Best) Diva Wide Receivers of All Time

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    Nobody's sure how it began or when, for that matter—and everyone seems to have a different say on who it was who started it.

    Over roughly the past two decades, one position in the NFL has seen a serious change, not in just terms of production, but also in terms of ego.

    The wide receiver went from a position in the background to one of great playmakers over the course of the 21st Century.

    As the spot has become more valuable over the years, wide receivers have begun to notice how valuable they are and aren't afraid to verbally share that fact with someone.

    Call it ego, cockiness, over-confidence or being big-headed, but without a doubt, the wide receiver position has become the spot of a diva on the gridiron.

    Whether by off-the-field antics or over-celebration and showboating on it, these wideouts are prime examples of the way the game has evolved as of recently in the NFL.

    Sure, you'll find the Reggie Wayne's and Andre Johnson's almost as often as you'll find the Ochocinco's and T.O.'s, but compared to the heydays of Steve Largent, Art Monk and Jerry Rice, the wide receiver position has certainly changed—not as much production-wise, but rather by attitudes.

10. Brandon Marshall

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    Despite his recent diagnosis with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Marshall can only save himself from not being higher up on this list.

    Besides one outburst at a practice where he punted balls around the field and refused to catch passes (over contract and injury issues), most of Marshall's problems have come off the playing field.

    And his off-the-field troubles started well before his arrival to the Denver Broncos (the team he was drafted by).

    At one time in his college career at Central Florida, Marshall was charged with assault on a police officer, disorderly conduct, refusal to obey and resisting an officer.

    The list continues to be a long one for Marshall (at least he has some sort of excuse now).

    He's been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence and eventually went through anger management for his actions. Marshall was once again arrested for disorderly conduct after a fight with his then-girlfriend, who later became his wife. That same wife stabbed him the year after, supposedly in self-defense.

    A misdemeanor battery charge and a DUI that was later bargained add to the long list of run-ins Marshall has had so far that overshadow his great play on the field.

    With Marshall coming out about his struggles with BPD, the best we can all hope for is he will seek the help he needs and that his days of being a diva off the field are over.

9. Steve Smith (Carolina Panthers)

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    I probably would have had Steve Smith much higher on this list a few years ago, but as his once-great playing days slowly fade away, his excessive-celebration numbers have done the same.

    Every one can remember the year in which Smith and Chad Ochocinco battled for touchdown-dance superiority. Smith pulled out all the stops, from pretending to row a boat against Minnesota after the Vikings "Loveboat" scandal, to hitting and sliding down a goalpost later n the year.

    Smith makes up for his small size with a large mouth (and large talents). But you have to give it to him; he doesn't have a long line of comments that have turned into controversy, and he also doesn't have much trouble away from the field.

    The only real blemish Smith has had on his record is a misdemeanor assault charge after he clocked a teammate in the head. Besides that, most of his diva-like actions come from his cockiness on the field.

8. DeSean Jackson

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    Don't look now NFL fans, but a new diva has certainly arrived.

    It comes in the form of DeSean Jackson, the man with plenty of speed and plenty of swag.

    Quickly becoming a big-headed nemesis for opposing teams in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles have gotten plenty of production from Jackson that nearly covers his character concerns.

    Those issues single-handedly cost him a chance of being selected in the first round of the NFL draft.

    Jackson's had plenty of showboat moments so far in his young career. Out of those, one that stands out the most would be his pre-touchdown celebration against Dallas where he threw the ball down—at the one yard-line, negating a potential score.

    Jackson has been making boneheaded moves like that since we began seeing him on television. The first moment was his appearance in the Army All-American game at the end of his high school career.

    Instead of easily jogging in for an easy touchdown, he instead attempted to flip into the end zone. His body landed in the end zone without the ball, which—once again—only made it to the one.

    Just how clearly is it to see that DeSean Jackson is cocky?

    Well, to the point that a new Facebook page called "I Love How Cocky DeSean Jackson Is" was recently created.

    All this together explains why Jackson is on this list and will remain on it for years to come.

7. Andre Rison

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    Andre Rison was a player with a bit of an edge now and then on the field. But it doesn't compare to his troubles off the gridiron.

    "Bad Moon" Rison described himself as "misunderstood" when opponents called him cocky and arrogant. Misunderstood or not, he can't cover up the things he's done when he wasn't playing football.

    Rison was arrested for aggravated assault in 1993 and charged with felony theft later in his career. He was also arrested for public drunkenness and failed to pay more than $107,000 in child support, which led to another arrest.

    There's also the story many are familiar with, where Rison's girlfriend (the late Lisa Lopes from the group TLC) allegedly set a pair of his shoes on fire, which eventually spread through the whole house and sent the mansion in flames.

    On top of that, Rison has also declared himself the greatest wide receiver to ever set foot on an NFL field.

    If you didn't think he was cocky before, I think we can all agree he is now.

    ESPN even ranked him as one of the top 20 least likable players in NFL history. That pretty much sums up how his opponents, and even former teammates, feel about him.

    From slap-fights with Deion Sanders to using a fake name after throwing a guy through a window, it's safe to say Andre Rison is not just "misunderstood."

6. Plaxico Burress

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    It doesn't matter how well Plaxico Burress has played so far in his career or how well he'll play for the years to come, because his play will always be overshadowed by one less-than-genius moment that occurred in a night club.

    That night, with the Giants fresh off winning the Super Bowl, Burress preceded to accidentally shoot himself in the leg. He was charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

    So, as most know, Burress spent 20 months in the slammer and was recently signed by the New York Jets after being released from prison.

    Along with the possession charges Burress was convicted of, a single count of reckless endangerment was added on.

    Burress has reportedly been sued at least nine times; whether or not that comes with being a target with a lot of money, that's quite a few lawsuits.

    One came from a lady who claimed Burress slammed into her car, causing her permanent injuries. Burress allegedly fled the scene.

    Another moment Burress had involving vehicles was in 2009, when he leased a car on the promise that he would do publicity events for the company. The car was never brought back, and Burress never came to any events.

    Burress has several other dings and dents on his record, but overall, he's yet another fine example of a diva receiver.

5. Michael Irvin

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    Michael Irvin checks in at No. 5 for many reasons, both on and off the field.

    As far as the off-the-field part, drugs have been the key to his mishaps. Irvin has been charged twice with cocaine possession, the first coming in 1996 in the heydays of "America's Team" in Dallas.

    Before playing for the Cowboys, Irvin was a big part of the swag days of the "U" in Miami, where he would thrust his arm downfield after gaining a first down, even if the completion was only a few yards.

    Irvin was given the name "The Playmaker" by no one other than...Michael Irvin. The bad boy of "Big D," Irvin has been accused of a sexual assault allegation and also reportedly payed a teammate six figures to keep quiet after he assaulted him.

    Irvin was such a showboater and was hated so much by opposing fans that when he suffered a career-ending neck injury in Philadelphia (leave it to the "City of Brotherly Love"), Eagles fans cheered as he was unconscious on the turf.

    Even with his playing days long gone, Michael Irvin will always be remembered for his other-demensional skills and other-demensional swag.

4. Randy Moss

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    Randy Moss has always been a bit of a troublemaker—just without the "bit" part.

    Moss' troubles started with a battery incident in high school and seemed continue throughout his entire career from that point on.

    Some consider Moss the biggest diva wide receiver of all time, another big name that helped usher in the cocky era of wideouts.

    Moss tested positive for marijuana the year after his battery charge, violating his probation. He also once hit a traffic patrol officer with a car that, sure enough, had marijuana in it.

    Moss has caused scrutiny everywhere he has gone, jumping from Minnesota, to Oakland, to New England, back to Minnesota and ending up in Tennessee before retiring.

    Off-the-field problems are just the start for Moss, who has a long line of incidents while actually playing: squirting an official with water in frustration, pretending to moon Packers' fans and being fined in a fight against Chicago make the list even longer.

    Moss once spiked the ball on Detroit's Dre Bly and has been accused several times for taking plays off while on the field. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that he went 100 percent only part of the time.

    Moss revolutionized his position, which makes it even harder to believe he could go down in history for these incidents just as much as he will for his All-Pro play.

3. Chad Ochocinco

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    If this article were solely for actions on the field, Chad Ochocinco might have been on the very top of this list of divas. Given he doesn't have as many off-the-field problems as some others on the list, he'll slip in here at No. 3.

    Certainly on top of the swag chain in the NFL, Ochocinco's mouth has run just as much as his legs over a long, impressive career.

    Ochocinco has done everything from riding a bull, trying out for a MLS soccer team, starring in a reality show, racing a thoroughbred and participating in Dancing With the Stars.

    His only known off-the-field antics, besides his many controversial interviews, came when he set up raffles for a lucky fan to win a Lexus, and others to win trips to Europe and Hawaii. The people who won never got their rewards.

    The one thing Ochocinco is best-known for (aside from his name change) is his assortment of touchdown celebrations. The Riverdance, putting the ball with a pylon and jumping into Cleveland's "Dog Pound" are among the countless amounts of antics he's exhibited on the field.

    Putting on a jacket that said "H.O.F." (Hall of Fame) on the back of it after a score, and wearing a poncho and sombrero after another are certain to turn plenty of heads—and that's what Ochocinco is, and always will be known for.

    That and all those many fines he received while doing so.

2. Keyshawn Johnson

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    Keyshawn Johnson is another example of a pioneer in turning the receiver position into a spot for divas.

    Johnson grew up in a rough neighborhood as a kid, and was part of gang-banging and drug-dealing rings in his early years.

    With that in mind, it's a wonder how he even got out of his rough upbringing.

    Off the field, Johnson was charged with a couple of misdemeanors in the early 1990s. With that said, the majority of Johnson's problems don't have to do with the law.

    Johnson is well-known, almost in a legendary status, for his jawing with opponents. He's cocky and arrogant, and he'd be the first one to tell you that.

    His infamous book Just Give Me the Damn Ball summed up his impatience for the ball, and his complaining to quarterbacks and coaches.

    Johnson's relationship with coach Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay, or lack there of, was well-documented and ended quite awfully. He even went as far to call the coach a "mother (insert obvious here)" to the media. 

    Other relationships didn't go so well for Johnson, either.

    After a nasty divorce, he allegedly threatened to kill his ex-wife's boyfriend and was also accused of planning to hire a hitman to kill his ex.

    Overall, it's clear to see how big of a diva Johnson was, whether in Southern California, New York, Tampa Bay, Dallas or Carolina.

    Even with all of Johnson's diva-like antics, there's one wide receiver who tops them all...

1. Terrell Owens

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    Terrell Owens has been considered one of the better wide receivers to ever play a snap in the NFL—but in no way, shape or form will he ever be best-known for his production on the field.

    Whether your lasting image of him will be throwing popcorn into his helmet, shaking pom-poms or pulling out the Sharpie, there are plenty of comical and controversial moments to choose from.

    Owens got off to a quick start in San Francisco and quickly became known for running touchdown routes—and running his mouth. He constantly questioned then-coach Steve Mariucci and called his quarterback, Jeff Garcia, "gay" to the media.

    That was only the beginning of Owens' problems with QBs.

    After being traded to the Ravens, he failed to report, so San Francisco ended up eventually shipping him to Philadelphia where Owens' career took off even more.

    Even with his success in Philly, he never remained on the same page as his QB, Donovan McNabb. It got to the point where Owens was quoted as wanting to get Brett Favre to Philly, even with McNabb still at the helm.

    Owens was suspended for those comments and for nearly holding out that next year. He later took shots at the Eagles for not celebrating his 100th career reception more, and eventually, Philly had had enough.

    So what did Owens do?

    Well, he went to the Eagles' top rival, Dallas.

    Once there, controversy upon controversy followed him. He overdosed and nearly killed himself, which many thought was a suicide attempt.

    His injury concerns were well-documented, including when he showed up to camp wearing Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel jersey when riding the stationary bike.

    Or how could we forget the sit-ups he did while answering questions with another holdout being suspected?

    Owens has stood on the Dallas star at midfield, spit on DeAngelo Hall and scuffled with his wide receiver coach (now Kansas City head man, Todd Haley).

    There's no way you can fit all the many outrageous things T.O. has done, and that's why he reigns supreme as the best and biggest wide receiver diva of all time.


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