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© St. Petersburg Times, published August 18, 2002
What's going on with NFL receivers? Terrell Owens is arrogant and goofy. Remember his Lone Star degradation? San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci was openly angry and obviously embarrassed. I'm only sorry noted Texas butt-kicker Chuck Norris wasn't at that Cowboys game.
Last season, Randy Moss declared that he, at times, chooses not to play hard, a statement that understandably infuriated Vikings coaches and teammates.
Talented, rich, misguided punks.
Albert Connell was purged in New Orleans after stealing money from Saints buddy Deuce McAllister's locker. How pitiful is that? Recent indiscretions have tainted other receivers, including Eddie Kennison and Terry Glenn.
When a pro football player does or says something really stupid, chances are strong he's a wideout. Stats confirm it. Compared with many of his receiver brethren, Keyshawn Johnson is beautifully rational.
Rod Woodson, doing one last safety job in Oakland before heading to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, told Michael Silver of Sports Illustrated, "It might have to do with the mentality" of being a receiver.
"Defensive backs understand you can be a scapegoat a lot faster than you can be the hero," Woodson said.
"Quarterbacks, runners and even linemen tend to get blamed for mistakes a lot quicker than receivers. Maybe when you don't feel that pressure, you say or do things that a lot of us wouldn't."
Astute, mature, savvy.
Woodson is saying, I think, that receivers are like spoiled children; getting an all-but-free pass in the blame department while being hugely praised when they do something memorable.
Eric Wright, a former 49ers cornerback, says, "With so many wide receivers, it's "me, me, me.' More likely to be thinking of numbers and individual accomplishments whereas a defensive guy gets off on making a good hit or touchdown-saving play."
Funny, but when Pittsburgh was winning four Super Bowls in six seasons in the late '70s, getting stout work from John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, both now in the Hall of Fame, there was no such arrogant, mouthy, degrading, self-serving garbage from the wideouts.
Be aware, receivers, peers are noticing.
THOUGHTS: Almost as legendary for sage advice as his long-suppressed pitching prowess, Leroy "Satchel" Paige suggested, "Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody is watching." ... All last season, I kept hoping CBS would dump Jerry Glanville, a coaching loon who became a broadcasting bore. Now that it's done, can we work on shedding Deion Sanders, whose act gets really old once he cycles through self-parodies? ... My pal, Jerry Greene, wonders, with the Russian mob accused of fixing Olympic figure skating, why can't Moscow's thugs shape at least one tennis tournament in favor of Anna Kournikova?
Cheers for Home Depot, smacking the stock car driver it sponsors, Tony Stewart, with a $50,000 fine for misbehaving. Let's wait to see NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB organizations operate so definitively when outsiders have been wronged. Oh, yeah. Stewart understood the action, then immediately showed new levels of common sense and gentlemanly charm while winning the next NASCAR race at Watkins Glen. ... My mind clunking to a different beat, I saw Dog Eat Dog was scheduled on TV and figured it must be Georgia playing Mississippi State. ... Speaking of the tube, I thought nothing could ever look worse than the 0-26 beginning Bucs of 1976-77 until the Anna Nicole Show came along. ... Doug Flutie is nearing 40 while his Chargers quarterback coach, former Florida Gators bench-warmer Brian (Son of Marty) Schottenheimer, is barely 28. Young Schotty learned much from Steve Spurrier, who replaced his dad as Redskins coach.
READER'S RANT: E-mail from Joe O'Neill of Tampa muses: "Everyone is properly impressed with the Bucs' new camp at Disney's Wide World of Gruden complex, with manicured practice fields and 115-room Celebration hotel. Hardly your Spartan training camp digs, which, in a way, is a shame.
"For fans who cannot realistically identify with professional athletes, the University of Tampa scene was a bonus. Millionaires were forced to live in amenity-challenged dorm rooms and hoof it to work. Want a TV? Bring one. Need more blankets? Bring them too and carry them up yourself. For an after-hours hunger attack? Make it Subway or Mr. T's on Kennedy Boulevard.
"Now it's posh rooms, cable TV and room service. But it was humbling as long as it lasted."
Whatever happened to Berj Yepremian?
-- To reach Hubert Mizell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 726, Nellysford, VA 22958.