Wide-mouth wide­outs keep act­ing up

Re­ceivers have his­tory of spew­ing trash talk, cre­at­ing much more of a dis­trac­tion

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

They are called Diva Re­ceivers for a rea­son. We tend to find out why when NFL pass catch­ers open their mouths.

Cases in point most re­cently would be two of foot­ball’s big­gest stars, An­to­nio Brown and Odell Beck­ham Jr. What they’ve spouted, no mat­ter how it gets spun and by whom, can’t be any­thing but detri­men­tal to the team.

The his­tory of wide­outs with wide mouths — or free rein on so­cial me­dia nowa­days — in­cludes, nat­u­rally, the likes of Ter­rell Owens, Plaxico Bur­ress, Keyshawn John­son and Chad John­son/Ochocinco. To call their ut­ter­ings con­struc­tive crit­i­cism would be like call­ing Lam­beau Field balmy in De­cem­ber.

And they hardly are the only guys who have dam­aged the locker room vibes with their, well, bad vibes. Do you think cor­ner­back Jalen Ram­sey de­rid­ing op­pos­ing play­ers made for com­fort­able feel­ings in Jack­sonville? Guard Richie Incog­nito bul­ly­ing a team­mate in Mi­ami? Jay Cut­ler call­ing out his own guys just about ev­ery­where, in­clud­ing on the side­line?

Hey, cor­ner­back Josh Nor­man and Beck­ham pretty much came to blows in a 2015 game af­ter their trash-talk­ing shenani­gans.

Sure, lots if not most NFL play­ers like to run their tongues dur­ing games. Philip Rivers might not be the great­est Charg­ers quar­ter­back ever — re­mem­ber Hall of Famer Dan Fouts? — but he’s un­ques­tion­ably the fran­chise’s great trash-spew­ing QB. Steve Smith, one of the most com­bat­ive re­ceivers the NFL has seen, def­i­nitely didn’t be­lieve in the bro­mide “if you have noth­ing good to say, say noth­ing.”

And Ray Lewis not only was an all-world tack­ler and leader for the Ravens, his stream of words di­rected at op­po­nents was steady — and of­ten com­i­cal, if un­print­able.

But in the par­tic­u­lar cases of Brown and Beck­ham, there can be con­sid­er­able neg­a­tive fall­out for their clubs. So much so that the ten­sion and mis­trust they cre­ate can be as dam­ag­ing as a fourth-quar­ter pick-6 by an op­po­nent.

Brown might be the NFL’s most ta­lented of­fen­sive player. He might also be the most thin-skinned.

Among other items this year, he tweeted that Pitts­burgh should “trade me let’s find out” when it was sug­gested his suc­cess is due more to Ben Roeth­lis­berger than to Brown’s skills. Brown also didn’t show up at team head­quar­ters for a day last month, and fa­mously once livestreamed a locker room cel­e­bra­tion fol­low­ing a play­off vic­tory over Kan­sas City.

He also used Twit­ter in Septem­ber to threaten a re­porter who cov­ers the team, forc­ing the Steel­ers to is­sue an apol­ogy. Ex­plain­ing away Brown’s be­hav­ior, words and so­cial me­dia posts has be­come nearly a reg­u­lar chore in Pitts­burgh.

All of this doesn’t mean Brown needs to be sat down by the Steel­ers, which isn’t likely to hap­pen con­sid­er­ing they are in the busi­ness of win­ning games and he is their best player. It does mean he should be sat down and told that his procla­ma­tions and ac­tions are a dis­trac­tion for a team that isn’t ex­actly tear­ing up the NFL, sit­ting tied with Cleve­land and be­hind Cincin­nati and Bal­ti­more in the AFC North.

The Beck­ham blowups have been more in­flam­ma­tory and, with­out ques­tion, po­ten­tially more harm­ful. When you ques­tion your team­mates’ heart while care­fully re­mov­ing your­self from such a claim, ir­repara­ble dam­age of­ten re­sults.

“A lot of it has to do with the en­ergy we have that we don’t bring every sin­gle day,” he said last week. “You know me, I’m a pas­sion­ate, en­er­getic per­son. I al­ways have to have that. If I don’t, it’s go­ing to be a prob­lem for me. Play­ing with some heart, we need to play with some heart.”

Beck­ham also blasted the play-call­ing of first-year coach Pat Shur­mur, mainly be­cause, in Beck­ham’s view, he wasn’t get­ting the ball enough, par­tic­u­larly deep. Never mind that the of­fen­sive line has been such a sieve that ask­ing Eli Man­ning to throw balls any­where down­field has of­ten been prob­lem­atic.

Rec­og­niz­ing how counter-pro­duc­tive his com­ments were — or be­ing in­structed by a livid coach or, per­haps, some­one higher up in the Gi­ants’ com­mand chain — Beck­ham went into cri­sis con­trol last Sun­day. He asked to speak to the team in the locker room, and then he ran some­thing of a fly pat­tern away from his ear­lier state­ments.

This sea­son is hardly the first time Brown or Beck­ham have acted up or acted out. It prob­a­bly won’t be the last. But maybe the con­cept of “team first” will sink in be­fore what they do or say sinks their teams.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.