The St. Louis Rams have been linked to their fair share of so-called diva wide receivers over the last year. Randy Moss, T.O., Vincent Jackson and others have all been connected to the Rams, legitimately or by media matchmakers. None of them even signed a deal with the team. GM Billy Devaney finally added a known wide receiver in free agency this year, Mike Sims-Walker. Pundits slapped MSW with the diva label last year. Whether or not MSW truly deserves that label is up for debate.
In an interview yesterday with ESPN 101, Sims-Walker shed some light on his struggles in Jacksonville last year. He played in 14 games, but injuries nagged him all season. I'll let him explain.
That probably was my roughest season I played in. A lot of guys probably didn't know I was hurt, but I was out there at maybe 75 percent at best. I was just out there for the team. They asked me to go out there playing and I tried to fight through as best I could, tried to get shot up, whatever it took for me to go out there and help my team win. I struggled but I was out there.
Let me get this straight. His team asked him to play though his injury. He did, putting himself at risk for further injury and compromising his ability to perform at his highest level. Despite that, he somehow was labeled a diva. More from MSW, the diva, on why he played through his injury:
It's a team game. It's not about me. It's about those ten other guys on the field. We're out there trying to accomplish one goal and that's a win. If I have to go out there and play hurt or whatever that may be I'm gonna do it for them.
Man, is that guy selfish or what? All this "team first" crap, who does he think he is, Diana Ross? What a diva.
Complaints about his number of targets earned Sims-Walker the diva label. He was targeted 79 times last year after being targeted 111 times in 2009. His catch rate dipped from 57 to 53 percent. A bigger problem in the Jacksonville offense was David Garrard. According to Jacksonville observers, Garrard has a bad habit of locking onto his primary target, which helped MSW in 2009, but took away targets last year.
Players are naturally competitive; they want the ball in their hands. That doesn't make a guy a diva in the same way throwing a fit about the color of M&Ms in the green room does. Pundits and others are lazy with labels for players. How often to terms like "diva" or "blue collar" get bandied about? When a receiver ventures outside the world of talking points he gets labeled a diva. Sometimes the guy deserves that title. Sometimes he doesn't.