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Brandon Marshall and Javon Walker: Catching Catastrophes

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What is it with wide receivers? Is the speed at which they move like meth, turning their cerebellums to tapioca? Whatever the case, the Denver Broncos are certainly suffering from their fly-catchers' faults. First, high-priced Javon Walker, who sat in the car next to Darrent Williams when the latter was killed, suffered a knee injury and then whined so much upon his return that the Broncos released him prior to his most recent spate of bad juju; the newly minted Oakland Raider was beaten and robbed on June 16, sustaining broken bones in his face and losing jewelry worth an estimated $100,000. (A man named Arfat Fadel has been charged in the crime.) Then, word surfaced that Brandon Marshall, the heir apparent of the team's receiving corps (pictured), was arrested in Atlanta back in March on a misdemeanor battery beef that's ballooned into a publicity nightmare involving accusations of shakedowns, injury cover-ups and more, more, more.

So who would you rather have, Broncos? An injury-prone prima donna and problem magnet? Or a young talent who seems bound and determined to piss away a chance at a promising NFL career?

Either choice is lousy, but clearly Marshall is preferable to Walker simply by dint of his up-side. He's only started to display his potential, whereas Walker will likely begin heading downhill soon -- and indeed, judging by his last few games with the Broncos, he's already pointed in that direction. Besides, there's always the possibility that Marshall will straighten himself out. In a June 6 article in the Denver Post, Coach Mike Shanahan defended running back Michael Pittman, another current Bronco with a pock-marked rap sheet, by noting that former wide out Rod Smith was fingered in a 2000 domestic violence incident before emerging as one of the best, hardest-working members of the team and a solid citizen besides.

Unfortunately, there are far more examples of receivers for whom a first mistake is a precursor to a second, and a third, and a fourth. Terrell Owens, anyone? Maybe the answer is to switch offensive linemen to the wide receiver slots. They're not very fast, but at least most of them seem to stay out of trouble... -- Michael Roberts

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