Not unlike white NBA players, there seems to be a fascination among football fans for the white offensive weapons in the NFL; namely, white running backs and wide receivers. Why? Why not?
Maybe it's because, put simply, white people are seemingly the minority at those positions or maybe it's because of stars like Wes Welker and Brian Finneran, but football fans love white wide receivers. I don't know if I get it, even as a cis white male, but even I won't deny that there have been some fantastic wide receivers with a white skin tone to make their mark in the NFL.
But, what happens when the players retire? Do they stick close to the sports world they’ve spent so much of their life in and around? Do they go pursue other careers that maybe they didn’t have the time or energy – or even knowledge – of doing and devoting their time to? Do they wind up in prison – well, we’ll do our best not to talk about these guys today.
For this, we'll be looking at wide receivers who are alive at the time of publishing, meaning that some of the all-time great wideouts from the 1940s and 1950s who are dead now aren't on this list. Also, this is not a direct ranking list, meaning that one career or one player is not necessarily higher than the other; this is simply a gathering of some of the best white, living, wide receivers in NFL history.
If you're ready, grab your gloves, line up in the slot, and run about seven or eight yards out for the pass...or ranking.
16 Brandon Stokley: Radio Host
We start this list off with the always underrated Brandon Stokley, a valuable slot receiver best known for his days with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the mid 2000s. A fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, Stokley won three Super Bowls in his career and caught 68 balls for 1,077 yards and ten touchdowns for the Colts in 2004. Oh, and The Slot Machine had one of the greatest touchdowns in NFL history from an entertainment point of view for the Broncos in 2009.
Now, Stokley is a radio host on Sports Radio 104.3 The Fan in Denver, teaming up with Zach Bye for the aptly-named "Stokley and Zach" show. Stokely is joined on that station by another former Bronco in Mark "Stink" Schlereth, interestingly enough.
14 Brian Hartline: Ohio State Football Coaching Intern
Overall, Hartline's statistics of 344 catches for 4,766 yards and 14 touchdowns from 2009-15 for the Miami Dolphins may not sound too impressive, but keep in mind who his quarterbacks were. Chad Henne. Chad Pennington post-another surgery. Ryan Tannehill pre-development. Johnny Manziel. Whoever else the Browns threw out there in 2015. Woof. The guy certainly had his moments, though, especially when the Dolphins were playing fairly competently in the 2013 season.
After missing last season following a May 2016 release by the Browns, Hartline took a year off and has now returned to his alma mater, Ohio State, where he's serving as a coaching assistant. Following in the footsteps of his brother and former Buckeyes quarterback coach, Mike Hartline, Brian hopes to help Urban Meyer bring a national championship back to Columbus. If Hartline's NFL career is truly done, we wish him the best with coaching!
13 Brian Finneran: Blogger
Best known among some readers for his dominance on Michael Vick's Playstation 2 era 'Madden' teams, Finneran was a solid receiver in his own right, recording 238 receptions for 3,093 yards in ten seasons - including a 56 catch for 838 yards campaign in 2002. Was Finneran ever as dominant in real life as he was in Madden? No. Did he leave enough of an impression to be included on this list? Yes.
Like others on this list, Finneran has gone into sports media, though he is a blogger in addition to doing radio work in Atlanta. Let's see how he feels about the Atlanta Hawks...
"Millsap is gone and so is every other good player from 3 years ago! Time to suck for a while and get in the lottery and hope for the best!! Dump Dwight or even better keep him here and suck!! Apathy has set in."
12 Steve Watson: Motivational Speaker
Now, we're slowly starting to get to the good guys - with all due respect to those other guys, of course! A wide receiver for the Denver Broncos who was a member of the 1986 team that made it to the Super Bowl, Watson caught 60 balls for 1,244 yards and 13 touchdowns in the 1981 season, making his lone Pro Bowl. For the rest of his career, even if Watson never again made a Pro Bowl, he was a reliable option for John Elway, especially as the future Hall of Famer developed into a capable pro quarterback of his own.
After some coaching stints in the pros and college, Watson began his own company - Steve Watson LLC in 2015. Now a motivational speaker, Watson's Linkedin reads, "My story is about overcoming adversity to achieve your goals. Set the bar high and never look back. Stay in the game and leave no stone unturned."
Amen to that.
11 Ricky Proehl: Owner of Proehlific Park
And now, with all due respect to Steve Watson, we're really getting into the good guys. Ricky Prohel was never a Pro Bowler or a star - I'm not going to sit here and say that he was - but he was consistent and a reliable option for wherever he went; Arizona; Seattle, Chicago; St. Louis; Carolina; even his two game stint with the Colts in 2006 saw the former Wake Forest wideout be productive in whatever role the team needed him. During the 1999 Rams' road to a Super Bowl, Prohel caught eight balls for 121 yards and a touchdown.
After coaching with the Carolina Panthers, Ricky now owns Proehlific Park, a private facility that lives off the P.O.W.E.R. mantra. What is P.O.W.E.R., you ask?
I like that!
10 Joe Jurevicius: Professional Hunter
A second-round pick of the New York Giants in 1998, Joe Jurevicius continues our list after a career that saw him catch 323 balls for 4,119 yards and 29 touchdowns - including a 10 touchdown season in 2005 with the NFC champion Seahawks. However, it's Jurevicius' time in Tampa Bay from 2002-04 that most people will remember, as the Penn State product recorded 72 receptions and eight touchdowns; during the Buccaneers' 2002 run to the Super Bowl, Jurevicius had eight catches for 197 yards and a score.
In addition to owning laundry mats in the Ohio area, Jurevicius has also taken his talents to the woods and become a professional hunter. Seriously, this guy is an ace with his gun. Don't believe us on how good a hunter Joe is?
9 Ed McCaffrey: Radio Analyst
Yet another ex-Denver Bronco (what is it with them and white wide receivers), Ed McCaffery - whose son happens to be new Carolina Panthers running back Christian - caught 565 balls for 7,422 yars and 55 touchdowns in a 13 season career. Making the 1998 Pro Bowl after a 1,053 yards and ten touchdown season, McAffery won three Super Bowls - one with the 49ers, two with the Broncos - before retiring after the 2003 season.
And, like others on this list, McCaffery has gone into sports media - though he's taking a break for the foreseeable future for personal reasons. Before his leave of absence in April 2017, McCaffery worked with Denver Sports 760 and KOA Broncos Radio, though it's not unreasonable to think he'll be back on the airwaves sooner rather than later.
8 Cris Collinsworth: Sunday Night Football Analyst
If you don't know who Cris Collinsworth is and you're reading this article, then my hope is that you're now becoming a football fan and want to learn more about the game. A Pro Bowl wideout with the Bengals in the 1980s, Collinsworth made three Pro Bowls from 1981-83, catching 182 balls for 2,839 yards and 14 touchdowns over that time; the Florida alum would record 417 catches for 6,698 yards and 36 touchdowns in his career, making Super Bowl XVI and XXIII with the Bengals.
Now, Collinsworth is the lead color commenator on NBC's Sunday Night Football, partnering with Al Michaels in what will already be his ninth season in that role. Remember when Collinsworth took over for John Madden? It's nearly been a decade! Speaking of Madden, Collinsworth provided color commentary for every Madden game from Madden '09 to '12, working with Tom Hammond and Gus Johnson.
For the advanced stat fiends, Collinsworth also owns part of Pro Football Focus.
7 Dwight Clark: Battling ALS
Now, we're getting into legends territory. Twice named to the Pro Bowl and a member of the 1982 All-Pro team, we know Dwight Clark mainly for The Catch in January 1982. Unfortunately, what would normally be a positive section takes on a sadder tone, as Clark recently revealed that he is battling ALS.
"In addition to losing strength in my left hand — which makes opening a pack of sugar or buttoning my shirt impossible — I have now experienced weakness in my right hand, abs, lower back and right leg," Clark wrote earlier this year. "I can’t run, play golf or walk any distances. Picking up anything over 30 pounds is a chore. The one piece of good news is that the disease seems to be progressing more slowly than in some patients."
We at TheSportster are rooting for you, Dwight.
6 Lance Alworth: All Aboard Mini Storage Founder
Our first Hall of Famer on this list, Alworth is among the best players in San Diego Chargers history - and hey, he may have a legitimate case for THE best - and for good reason. Making seven consecutive Pro Bowls and six straight All-Pros from 1963-69, Alworth caught 542 balls for 10,266 yards and 85 touchdowns in his 11 season career. Alworth also won an AFC Championship with the 1963 Chargers and a Super Bowl with the 1971 Dallas Cowboys.
After retiring, Alworth founded All Aboard Mini Storage, which is a moving company mainly located in California. Is it too soon to make a joke about that being the company that is transporting all of the Chargers' goods from San Diego to Los Angeles? No? Alright, we'll end up making that joke at some point. Not yet, though.
5 Raymond Berry: Born Again Christian
Now 84 and still going, Hall of Famer Raymond Berry has his own unique position on this list: end. Serving as a split end for the majority of his career with the Colts, Berry recorded 631 catches for 7,275 yards and 68 touchdown in a 13 season career, making six Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. Berry also served as the New England Patriots coach from 1984-89, leading them to a 48-39 record and a Super Bowl XX appearance against the Chicago Bears; before Bill Belichick was a thing, Berry brought an unprecedented level of excellence to Boston, winning campaigns every year from 1985-88.
Now enjoying retirement, we're going to give Raymond Berry a spot on this list for becoming a born again Christian and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Good on you, Raymond!
4 Fred Biletnikoff: Tracey's Place of Hope Founder
We talked a lot about Biletnikoff in one of our recent Florida State articles and those basic facts - he is both a Pro Football and College Football Hall of Famer, he made four Pro Bowls, he won the Super Bowl XI MVP, et all - still apply, so let's take this time to instead talk about his post-football ventures. After his daughter Tracey, was found strangled to death in 1999 at the age of 20, Biletnikoff founded Tracey's Place of Hope; in their own words, "This freshly restored home will reopen its doors, welcoming young girls who have endured drug addictions, domestic abuse, human trafficking, and gang violence. "
"Fred and I have such joy that is beyond expression, and we have so many to thank for sticking with us through these years and through this wonderful journey," Biletnikoff's wife, Angela, said in July 2016. "The hard work and efforts have truly paid off!”
3 Wayne Chrebet: Financial Adviser
A fan favorite for many Jet fans over a decade after he retired, Wayne Chrebet brought a much-needed sense of grit and grind to the organization after going undrafted out of Hosfta. Recording 580 catches for 7,365 yards and 41 touchdowns from 1995-2005, Chrebet saw his career prematurely ended in 2005 as a result of several concussions. Unlike others on this list who seemingly couldn't live without staying in football, Chrebet tried something different: the financial world.
“I don’t make any decisions on stocks, bonds or any investments. These guys went to school for that,” Chrebet told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News in November 2013. “I analyze everything they do. I monitor it. As far as making the final decision, I offer advice. We are dealing with $100 million accounts. I don’t want that kind of pressure.”
2 Steve Largent: Ex-Politician
For all intents and purposes, Steve Largent was the WHITE wide receiver until Wes Welker came around. Breaking into the league in 1976 with the Seattle Seahawks, Largent played his entire career in the Pacific Northwest, catching 819 balls for 13,089 yards and 100 touchdowns; Largent also made seven Pro Bowls and the 1985 All-Pro team and remains a fan favorite in Seattle even now.
While Largent has dabbled in everything from broadcasting to marketing in his post-football career, the Pro Bowler is likely best remembered for his eight year (1994-2002) tenure as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Oklahoma. In fact, if not for a sudden upset from Democrat Brad Henry, Largent likely would have won the 2002 election for Governor of Oklahoma. How sudden of an upset are we talking? Largent lost by a little under 7,000 votes...rough.
1 Wes Welker: Houston Texans Offensive Assistant
Well, Wes Welker's career highlights should go without saying after 903 catches, 9,924 yards, 50 touchdowns, five Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams. If you're looking for the definition of a white wide receiver, Wes Welker is your guy. From 2007-12 with the New England Patriots, Welker averaged 112 catches for 1,243 yards and six touchdowns a season...and never really was talked about as a top five wideout. What??
Now, Welker joins former Patriots assistant and current Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien's staff as an assistant. Early on, the players are liking what they're seeing from the future Hall of Famer.
"It's great learning from a guy like Wes who has had experience in this league, who knows every aspect, not just from a player standpoint but also from a coach as of now," Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said last month. "He has played with some of the best, so having his knowledge out here helps a lot."
Which of these guys do you think has had the best post-football career? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!