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Friday, April 16, 2010
Wide receivers are a different breed

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Several times in the past, I’ve shared with you the positional personality profiles done by Dr. Arnold J. Mandell back in 1973 and specifically focused on his assessment of wide receivers.

Steve Smith
Carolina will have to draft a receiver who can work with Smith.
With Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers fans mad that their teams never even pursued Brandon Marshall or Santonio Holmes, I think it’s time to look at Mandell’s work once more. For background purposes, Mandell did these profiles while working as a team psychiatrist for the San Diego Chargers and coach Harland Savard.

"The wide receiver is a very special human being," Mandell wrote. "He shares many features with actors and movie stars. He is narcissistic and vain and basically a loner."

Here are a couple more excerpts from the Mandell profiles on wide receivers:
"They love to be the center of attention. They need to be noticed. They have an imperviousness in that they don't seem to mind criticism about being like that. All players want the respect of fellow players. Showing off usually is not an admired characteristic by most players, but by wide receivers it is very admired."

"They are interested in looking pretty, being pretty. They are elegant, interpersonally isolated. Wide receivers don't group, they don't mob out. They are actors, uninflected about showing off, individualists, quite interested in their own welfare, their own appearance."

Think about it a bit. Mandell’s profiles on all the positions were pretty accurate, but I think he put it in the upper deck with wide receivers. Marshall, Holmes,Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Steve Smith, Muhsin Muhammad, Keyshawn Johnson -– they all fit the profile. As a general rule, you can say the more a guy fits this profile, the better he is as a wide receiver. Of all the wide receivers I’ve ever covered, I’d say former Carolina player Keary Colbert came the furthest from fitting the profile. Colbert wasn’t full of himself and he wasn’t hyper-competitive. Those may be among the reasons he never fulfilled his potential.

Yeah, you can say that guys like Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison succeeded without fitting the profile. But that’s not really true. Rice and Harrison might not have been all that flamboyant, but people who played with them or coached them will tell you they had a controlled selfishness about them.

Receivers are a very rare breed. As the Panthers and the Bucs look at drafting receivers next week, I think personalities will play into it. Obviously, their focus is on talent, but they have to find the right kind of receiver to fit in nicely. Carolina needs a guy who can co-exist with Smith. Tampa Bay needs a guy whose ego can fit in a locker room with tight end Kellen Winslow.

It’s a balancing act. Almost every wide receiver comes with some sort of baggage. You’ve got to take all that into consideration and determine which one you really need on your team.

Reminds me of a story from long ago. My high school baseball coach, the late and great Paul Fearick, had a strange dislike for guys who were on the wrestling team. In his own way, Fearick viewed them the same way Mandell described wide receivers.

When Fearick saw a sophomore, who also happened to be on the wrestling team, goofing off in practice one day, he erupted.

“Schubert, I don’t need you,’’ Fearick screamed. “You wrestlers are all crazy. I had a wrestler last year. But the guy could hit and he could play the field. We needed him. You? We can do just as well without you.’’

Turned out Fearick was setting some ground rules. He needed Eric Schubert, who pitched a few big games for us after we had some injuries late in the year and he became Fearick’s ace the next two years. Fearick, although not really thrilled about it, was willing to endure some quirks to get what he needed.

When it comes to wide receivers, the Bucs and Panthers have to ask themselves which ones they really need and how much they’re willing to turn their heads to all the other things that come with any given receiver.