The wide receiver: A flashy, attention-grabbing position that helps sell tickets and attracts a fan base. Oftentimes, players of this position are the most vocal teammate, embracing a very volatile personality. Wide receivers are the shiny sports convertible of football teams. They are eye-appealing and super fun. They are super fun until a rainy day.
This past week the NFL has seen two of its most outspoken players and best wide receivers — Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant — encounter a rainy day with some major public relation issues.
Beckham has been brought into the media spotlight for his recent sideline antics during a game against his division rival, the Washington Redskins, and his archenemy, cornerback Josh Norman. Beckham was seen visibly crying on the sideline and losing a fight to a kicking net, banging his head into the metal frame while screaming obscenities at the inanimate object.
Teammate Eli Manning was seen talking to Beckham, trying to calm him down during the course of the game, a close game the Giants would go on to lose 29-27. Beckham’s antics served as a major distraction to the team. Rather than having to worry about how to best operate his offense and help his team win the game, Manning found himself having to be a babysitter on the sideline.
It is okay to have an occasional emotional breakdown, but Beckham Jr. is starting to make a habit of it. Last season, Beckham and Norman were getting into verbal arguments and illegal physical altercations during the course of play.
These antics served as a distraction to their teams, preventing them from playing at their peak performance. The incident between the two was so flagrant that this offseason the NFL installed a new rule that mandates a player who receives two personal foul penalties during the course of a game to be subsequently ejected. Many media members have coined this the “Beckham Rule.”
When Beckham’s coach, Ben McAddoo was asked about Beckham’s most recent antics, McAddoo said, “He needs to control his emotions better and become less of a distraction to himself and to his teammates.”
When asked for a response to his coach’s comment, Beckham gave a brash, “I’m just going to go out and be who I am.” Beckham’s disrespect for his head coach is unnecessary, creating yet another distraction the team could do without.
Although being extremely talented at his position, Beckham is not worth the public relations nightmare for the Giants. Despite leading the league in several statistical categories since entering the league in 2014, his New York Giants are only 12-18 in games that he has played. His individual statistical dominance has not translated into team success.
In other NFC East news, the Dallas Cowboys have come under criticism for their recent handling of an injury to top wide receiver Dez Bryant. After suffering a nasty hit in the Cowboys’ game against the Bears, Dez Bryant was supposed to report to Cowboys’ facilities Monday and have an MRI done on his knee to see the extent of his injury.
Instead, Bryant was neither seen nor heard from until Wednesday when he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his knee. Bryant missed two team meetings and a treatment session during this time. Bryant explained that he hid from team doctors because he was afraid to receive devastating results about his injury.
Cowboys’ Head Coach Jason Garret excused Bryant’s actions in a press conference on Thursday, noting them as a consequence out of passion for football, but he did hint at possible repercussions. Throughout Bryant’s six seasons in the league, the team has assigned him a personal security detail in order to monitor his behavior and whereabouts.
Much like the Giants and Beckham, Bryant‘s diva-like actions have taken away from his team’s ability to devote its full attention to preparing for their upcoming games. Head coaches should not have to field questions to defend their immature receivers. They should be focusing on game plans.
Teams can get away without these star receivers. Odds makers in Vegas, some of the most knowledgeable people on effects to the game that individuals may have, place little to no importance on receivers. A quarterback missing a game can affect the point spread of a game by up to seven points, according to Vegas. The highest spread differential caused by an absent receiver is Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown with .5 points.
Teams can survive these cancerous receivers, no matter how individually talented they may be. It is far more important that the person throwing the ball to the receivers is competent. Rather than be held hostage by immature divas, teams should unload that shiny receiver convertible and pack up a practical and safe mini-van.
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