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Note To Sportswriters: Wide Receivers Aren't Actually Divas

Don Banks, the Sports Illustrated writer last seen comparing Matt Millen to Dick Nixon in a good way, wonders today why so many wide receivers act like divas. Not to pick on Banks again, but ...


This column is a perennial among NFL writers, and it is perennially wrongheaded. Banks, to his credit, manages not to attribute anything to "hip-hop culture," that battered old scarecrow that usually makes a regrettable appearance whenever a writer asks, as Banks does, "What gives with the guys who play at the NFL's 'diva' position?" His mistake here, and he admits as much, is to tally up wildly variegated anecdotal examples of eccentric wide receiver behavior, lump them all together, and assume that the list is longer than it would be for any other position.

It isn't. In fact, wide receivers aren't at all the outliers we tend to think them to be. I'm plagiarizing myself here, but this bears repeating: Generally speaking, wide receivers may be the most normal people on the field.

In 2006, a couple of researchers with CPP, a company that administers personality tests, looked at the personality profiles of each NFL position:


You'll notice that, in category after category, the wide receiver falls roughly in the middle of his football peers. He is, as the CPP researchers noted, "confident, assertive ... talented ... [has] high self-esteem ... vocal about dislike for change and innovation," and he "may act without regard for criticism." In other words, the wide receiver is, as one CPP rep told me, "remarkably similar to the average person."

Look closely at their research, particularly the category of "law enforcement orientation." We're clearly asking the wrong question. What we should be asking is, Why are quarterbacks such domineering narcs?


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