2012 was set to be the year of the over-the-hill receiver.
This year in football has been an interesting one to say the least. A majority of the teams that were expecting to shine absolutely flopped, and teams like the Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, and Vikings are headed to the playoffs. Go figure.
One of my favorite sub-stories for the year was the return of 4 seemingly over-the-hill receivers to football. Chad Johnson, Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens all had jobs, or were looking for jobs, at the start of the 2012-13 NFL season. I was planning on reviewing their seasons for comparison in search of the better player, but I didn’t expect things to fall apart as bad as they did.
Let’s go worst to first shall we?
T.O. was all set to rejuvenate his career in Seattle this summer after signing at 1-year, $925,000 contract with the Seahawks. Training camp highlights showed Owens demeanor as ‘humble’ and it appeared as though he was getting along well with coach Pete Carroll when they pranked the entire football team.
Sad to say, Owens was released 20 days later after the 3rd pre-season game with the Seahawks. He announced the release via Twitter on August 26th, 2012. Since then, Owens has been listed as a free agent and is scheduled to appear on the Fox show, “Stars in Danger: The High Dive”, where celebrities high-dive into a swimming pool on January 9th. Promising.
After his dismal season in New England, the future looked pretty bleak for Mr. Johnson. He landed a deal with the Miami Dolphins for the 2012 season and changed his last name back from Ochocinco to Johnson. A lot of people started to buy into the notion that Chad Johnson was a more humble man. Some even predicted a come-back calibur season for the former Pro-Bowler.
Before the season even started, Johnson was involved in a domestic dispute with his now ex-wife Evelyn Lozada where police report that he head-butted her, prompting me to name my now 3rd place champion fantasy football team, “The Lozada Foreheads.” He was cut immediately after posting bail and has been listed as a free agent ever since. Johnson did a small stint on ESPN a few weeks ago where he told his side of the story and begged for forgiveness. It was sad, but a lot of the analysts commended him for it, which basically means he’s probably going to be an NFL receiver somewhere next year.
In retrospect, Burress should’ve been absolutely elated to leave the New York Jets, except that no other team offered him a roster spot on their team to begin the 2012 season. Plaxico remained out of the spotlight for the first 3 months of the season, while quietly negotiating a contract as a free agent. On November 20, 2012, Plaxico signed a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were in great need of receivers after losing Crotchery and Brown to injuries.
Up until December 30th, 2012, Burress played in 2 of 5 potential games, being targeted 5 times total. He made one reception for 18 yards in Pittburgh’s loss to the Chargers. In week 17, however, Plaxico was targeted a whopping 3 times, with 2 completions for 24 yards and 1 touchdown. That touchdown marks the longest gap for a touchdown pass between quarterback and receiver. The future doesn’t look great for Burress, who may have one year left in him, but at least he has flown under the radar since his time in jail and truly appears to have righted his wrongs.
Moss spent the 2011-12 season in retirement, so it was sort of surprising to hear that he had emerged to sign and deal with the playoff-contending San Francisco 49ers.
Moss played in all 16 games this season but was rarely used, averaging around 4 targets per game. Moss’s ‘highlight’ games would either be the 75 yard receiving game against the Giants, or the 1-catch for 47 yards and a touchdown game against the Arizona. All told, Moss accumulated 434 yards receiving and 3 TDs on the season. I’m calling him the winner based on dignity.
So, what did we learn, boys and girls? Well, although I was practically drooling at the frenzy of media stories that were set to emerge this football season, most of these entertaining veterans have now become a bit sad and pathetic. Unlike running backs that have the shortest tenure in football, receivers can sometimes linger around for multiple seasons. Problem is, most of them don’t know when their day in the sun is over, and sometimes, neither to the NFL teams who sign them.
Predictions for the 2013-14 Season
Owens – Has a full transition into acting, where he is considered mediocre at best. Struggling to find acting work, Owens finally lands a gig on some VH1 reality show that exploits his insecurities and shortcomings for ratings.
Johnson – Signs a 1-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. 650 yards, 4 TDs.
Burress – Retires a Pittsburgh Steeler, ends up doing commentary work for the local Pittsburgh broadcasts.
Moss (includes 2012-13 post-season) – catches the NFC Championship winning touchdown pass that propels the 49ers to the Superbowl. After losing the Superbowl, Moss immediately begins cursing out his fellow teammates through an abysmal meltdown during the post-game conference. Calls everyone “bitches”, and then returns to his rural roots to continue racing NASCAR trucks.