The best wide receivers are some of the most graceful athletes in the entire sports universe. Whether they’re impressive physical specimens or simply phenomenal route runners, wideouts are visible, engaging, and capable of developing a unique chemistry with their quarterbacks, emerging as go-to-guys in the clutch. Old timers and self-proclaimed purists often write off wide receivers as prima donnas.
By definition, split ends and flankers must wave to signal for attention while running patterns, and this job description has attracted an eclectic bunch of personalities who demand the spotlight both on and off the field. NFL wide receivers from Chad Ochocinco to Michael Irvin have been associated with showboating and run-ins with the law.
For better or worse, “antics” seem to come part and parcel with many gifted wideouts. Ranking the thousands of wide receivers who pass through the NFL is daunting. Comparing players across eras is nearly impossible, and this dynamic list will always be up for debate.
We’ve got to give an honorable mention to Cris Carter, owner of arguably the greatest hands in the business, and now that Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has hung up his cleats he’ll likely be a lock for this list as well — we’re still figuring out exactly where he sits.