For the first time in his young professional career, Kadarius Toney, the speedster out of Gainsville broke out, snagging ten catches for 189 yards against the Dallas Cowboys.
The New York Giants rookie receiver also recorded a punch to close the game as tensions boiled over in the blowout rivalry. Another example of a Giants receiver making reasoned level-headed decisions. Because he plays in Giants blue, plays receiver, and seems both talented and emotionally inclined, the comparison is right there: Is Toney molding into the next Odell Beckham Jr.?
The position lends itself to a specific type of player with confidence and flash; some would even say brazen cockiness. This of course, has born itself into some extreme characters. Randy Moss, Terrell Owns, Chad Ochocinco are just a few players that let off-field drama and antics impact the performance on the field.
Now, on the scale of -Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the thigh to OBJ’s five-game story arc with a kicker’s net, to Anthony Miller taking a swing at a mouthy corner- Toney has a ways to go before getting into trouble.
But, if veteran corners think they can get under your skin over four quarters, they will needle that receiver to death. We all saw this happen to Beckham Jr.
And while injuries have played a role in the slide of OBJ’s fall from greatness, the LSU product’s propensity to attract and cause distraction is also a factor.
So, where is the line in an emotional position whose players derive as much success as detriment from swagger?
For players that feed off the drama and the electricity of playing receiver, it seems extremes seem to balance out the player.
Ochocinco drew flags for pretending to bribe refs and celebration antics but lived and breathed the game. He lived at the Bengals facility at the start of the season. He literally LIVED there.
Sure, Moss might freak out about his food or moon an away crowd. But former teammate Nate Burleson has told stories about Moss in practice, trying some of the most challenging routes and catches in the back of the endzone. Like a Velociraptor in Jurassic Park, test the limits of every defensive position to find a weakness and exploit it.
The point is, some fantastic receivers have played in the NFL and carried a decent amount of baggage. But just like in so many other aspects of life, balance is critical.
When the stuff like boat parties before playoff games and fights with the ENTIRE St. Louis Rams team (yeah, there was an NFL team in St. Louis, history is wild kids) start to pile up, it will eventually outshine any of your stats or work in practice.
But don’t sell your Toney stock yet. The promising young player is just that, young. It is too early to get concerned about how much emotion he is bringing into these games.
And there can be balance. Andre Johnson beat the tar out of Cortland Finnegan after three-quarters of the former Tennessee Titan chirping. Even the stoic Johnson let his emotion bleed into a game. The important thing is keeping it from overshadowing a career.
If the Flordia Gator is a bit of a spite fire, that isn’t necessarily the worst thing, just so long as it doesn’t become the only thing. As far as Toney potentially becoming the next OBJ, only time will tell.