The Death of the Diva Receiver

By C. Patterson

Homer Jones. Remember the name? Well if you don’t let me refresh your memory. In 1965 as a New York football Giant he scored a touchdown and expressed his jubilation by taking the ball and “spiking” it into the ground. This was the first time that type of celebration for the seemingly trivial achievement of reaching the end zone was recorded. A simple spike. Upon that inspiration, University of Houston’s Elmo Wright “high-stepped” into the end zone and Atlanta Falcon Billy “White Shoes” Johnson shook his tail feather after touchdowns and who could forget the famous “Ickey Shuffle.” It was just a spike, but it would pave the way for jumping high-fives, dance parties, cell phone calls, Sharpies and sombreros. A spike changed the landscape of not just professional football but every place that a football could be caught: college, high school, Pop Warner, all the way down to the sand lot.  I blame Homer. Chad is Homer’s fault. Randy is Homer’s fault. Terrell is Homer’s fault. Plaxico…well Homer never shot himself at a nightclub, but he’s Homer’s fault too. That spike turned players into entertainers and receivers caught the acting bug worst of all. But when your box office goes from blockbuster to bust, some of the most dramatic personas in the league meet Shakespearian ends.

No one in the San Francisco front office cared about Terrell Owens’ Sharpie sock-stuffing antics when he was the most dynamic receiver in the game. But once his numbers no longer matched his ego the NFL, fans, even baby mamas turned their backs on one of the most talented stars. He’s pom pom dances were replaced with sessions with Dr. Phil. Before he landed in a new bird’s nest with the Seahawks, T.O. had to slum it in Allen, Texas and just when he thought his story would have a happy ending he was spinning ninja kicked right out of Seattle due to poor performance. His ability has betrayed him. Gone were the days of supremacy, heck he would be grateful for the days of mediocrity. In his journey to rediscover himself he found a broken ex-reality star man-child that lacked the sufficient talent to perform even to the Seahawks standards. I blame Homer.

Then there is the tale of Plaxico the Dimwitted. Once upon a time there was a receiver from the land of Norfolk, who in machismo his ego was thoroughly soaked. He went from Super Bowl to 20 months in the hole thus going from balling to broke. Mr. Burress has achieved much in his 35 short years on this planet; he has achieved success on both the collegiate and professional levels. He has signed his John Hancock on a $25 million contract. And he has caught a game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII (although he didn’t spike it). Yes Plaxico was mighty indeed. Then the outspoken receiver, who squabbled over the insult that he was only being paid a measly $3.25 million per season, decided the top was too high and wanted to see what the view from rock bottom looked like.  The Giants released him in 2009 following him shooting himself in the right thigh after accidently discharging his Glock, which he was holding securely in his sweatpants. Burress then spent some time at the lovely Oneida Correctional Facility. Unabashed, Burress made a initially triumphant return to the NFL in 2011 with the New York Jets even grabbing The Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award. But alas on his hunt for the fountain of loot, Plaxico has found himself without a job for the upcoming season although he has expressed a want to play in Philadelphia with his friend Michael Vick. Perhaps if that touchdown catch in 1965 had remained in the hands of Jones instead of being propelled at the grass little Plaxico may still be gainfully employed. Damn you Homer.

Last but certainly not least we have the case of the Outstandingly Outrageous Occurrences of Ochocinco. Chad Johnson has taken one of the biggest swan dives of descent into the shards of glass filled valley of shame in recent memory. In less than two weeks Johnson’s life took a rally car-like turn right off a cliff. It wasn’t that long ago that Chad was just your run of the mill African American sideline sombrero-wearing receiver in Cincinnati who changed his last name to a broken Spanish derivative of his jersey number. He was talented, he was entertaining, he river-danced in the end zone and he delivered…at least for a while he did. Then the limelight proved to be too addictive and Ocho found himself on Dancing with the Stars. But when his stats dried up so did his welcome. The once celebrated wide out due to his explosive life off the field is unemployed and disgraced. A tragic character of Hamlet proportions. Fame was his undoing. Ironic isn’t it that people always said that his big head would get him into trouble. They could have never imagined it would have been like this. Would things have turned out this way if Homer would have just went back to the sidelines? Hope you’re happy Homer.