Catch a Star

Sunday's Miami-Cincinnati matchup features three of the premier members of the so-called Diva Receivers club: Brandon Marshall of the Dolphins, and Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens of the Bengals. Do they resent that loaded phrase and all the resentment that comes with it? Depends who you ask.

"Diva receiver? Shoot, that means you're very successful," said Marshall, who wore out his welcome in Denver feuding with Broncos coach Josh McDaniels and is working to enhance his image with the Dolphins.

Marshall also will take the attention, endorsements, salary and celebrity status that comes with being perceived a diva. Receivers who spend most of the game lobbying for more passes often crave that type of status. But is it the position that feeds the ego, or the ego that pushes the players to the position?

"We play a very unique position, and it's steered a lot of young kids with that outgoing, type-A personality to the receiver position," said Cris Carter, a former receiver and present ESPN broadcaster, whose 16-year career ended right when the diva era was gaining ground. "We have to rely on a lot of other people to do well to do our job. If they aren't doing their job, we don't look good, and we like to look good."

Everyone's been expecting the pairing of Owens and Ochocinco in Cincinnati to become a toxic situation because it was thought there was no way two divas could exist on the same team. But they have, and have done so harmoniously. In fact, they are filming a reality series together.

"Showing your personality is something that's frowned upon when playing receiver and being in the NFL," said Ochocinco, who legally changed his name from Chad Johnson to a Spanish-language approximation of his number, 85. "They want you to be robotic-like, and those who get the stigma are the ones who are outspoken and have a little bit of personality and flair to themselves."

According to Ochocinco, sometimes that personality gets receivers miscast or stereotyped.

Despite their obvious talent, diva receivers seem to move around from team to team more than others. Owens is making his fifth NFL stop with the Bengals, who initially passed on signing him but eventually caved to Ochocinco and quarterback Carson Palmer's lobbying.

Even though most inside the NFL wouldn't touch Owens during the offseason, he has 40 catches for 564 yards and three touchdowns, putting him on pace for a strong season.

"Terrell has really done a good job for us. He's really worked hard at learning how we do things, and has really minimized his errors and is getting the details right," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who added that Owens and Ochocinco are great practice players. "He's obviously been very productive and is one of those guys who like to put the team on his back and win the football game."

Like Lewis, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has not had buyer's remorse regarding Marshall. Sparano said he knows plenty more about Marshall now than when the Dolphins initially traded for him, but he admitted there was some fear factor involved with getting into bed with a diva.

"Depending on who you listen to, you might hear some horror stories," Sparano said. "'Oh my God, this guy is so unmanageable in a game.' That probably of anything has been the biggest thing I've been impressed with (in terms of misperception)."


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