Receivers: 'Like the Cutest Puppy in the Window'
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Week four of the NFL season starts this weekend. Commentator Frank Deford will be watching with some sympathy for the players at one especially challenging position.
I can just imagine the anguish that wide receivers must go through. Oh, my, those poor devils; tall, sleek, fast as cheetahs, handsome. Why, they're some of the few football players left who actually don't look like chunky, oversized penguins.
I can just hear them whining to their psychiatrists as they writhe on the couch, `Don't you understand, Doc? I'm a star. I'm a diva. But the quarterback can't get me the ball. It's not fair. You understand me, don't you, Doc?'
Wide receivers are like the cutest puppy in the window, whimpering to all the passersby, `Take me home. Please, take me home. I'm adorable. Give me a chance.' But the nice people look and move on, maybe they even buy a parakeet or a tropical fish instead.
You see, of all athletes, wide receivers are the best defensive players who have the most difficulty getting the ball. Every hitter in baseball gets a turn at bat. Hockey scorers can go get the puck. Even Shaquille O'Neal got the ball every now and then when he played with Kobe Bryant. Running backs get handed the ball. Handed it! But the wide receivers religiously run their routes, which for some reason are called `rowtes' when wide receivers run them. And do the quarterbacks throw them the ball? No, not enough, not nearly enough.
`Why do quarterbacks get all the attention, Doc? Why? Why? I'm prettier catching than he is throwing, but all you hear is quarterback this, quarterback that.' No wonder wide receivers seem to be going berserk.
Randy Moss even left a game before it was over last year and he pretended to moon a whole stadium. Not content with just dancing and prancing, cake walking and carousing in celebration whenever they catch a touchdown pass, some wide receivers have taken to creating amateur theatricals in the end zone to further commemorate their own self.
The current, most traumatic wide receiver is, of course, T.O., Terrell Owens, of the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides his many and original high jinks on the field, T.O., `the Ego,' has been more distracting off. Let us not count the ways, though. Let us just try to understand why he would regularly want to insult his own quarterback, Donovan McNabb. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. `Keep my family's name out of your mouth,' the battered McNabb has groaned. But T.O. can't help aggravating the one man he needs to get him that ball. Not since Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis feuded have we see two colleagues who need each other so much being so much at odds.
Sure, some wide receivers and quarterbacks, like Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning in Indianapolis work together as sweetly as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers ever did. But most wide receivers remain limited partners in the quarterback corporation, so we fans must understand their plight, appreciate their torment and sympathize with them as they endlessly run their `rowtes' hoping and praying that the `glamour puss' quarterback will get them the ball.
INSKEEP: We receive Frank Deford's insights every Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut. By the way, the movie of his latest screenplay, "Four Minutes," will air next Tuesday evening, October 6th, on ESPN2. We assume it's more than four minutes long.
It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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