Swan song?


A.J. Green (18), with quarterback Andy Dalton, has impressed some of the game's best receivers.

HONOLULU — The Diva Receiver appears to be as extinct as CDs and BlackBerrys. And didn't they just show up, too?

The species just didn't flock to Cincinnati. Once upon a time, oh, maybe two years ago (an eternity in a world atwitter), the Pro Bowl was a greenhouse for those roses with thorns.

No more.

A.J. Green, the first Bengals rookie to make the Pro Bowl in 30 years, is just another in a line of throwback receivers that are rebelling against the me-me generation, led by their *Maharishi, *six-time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald used to be the lone nut at this all-star game.

A low-profile guy with high-profile numbers.

This week there is not only Green, polite but perfunctory with the media, but also first-time AFC receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, blue-collar guys from the Steelers that have conspired to post Twitter pics together for their most outrageous acts of the week.

(Unless you want to include Green's kayak trip on Wednesday.)

Fitzgerald's NFC roster includes Packers two-timer Greg Jennings, whose magazine cover shot had him among about 312 of quarterback Aaron Rodgers's receivers.

Yes, Carolina's Steve Smith has been known to have his moods and Miami's Brandon Marshall is battling some issues. But Johnson (Calvin) and Johnson (Andre), not here this week, have provided the same kind of Green-like relief.

"They don't let everything that surrounds them get in the way," Fitzgerald said here this week. "They focus on the task. That's what I like about them. All those guys are real class guys."

Fitzgerald really likes Green and not just because they are both two-guard tall with a game that resembles more post play that post routes at times.

"That's a good dude right there; I enjoyed seeing his maturation down at Georgia," Fitzgerald said. "I went down and watched him play when I was down there. I'm a huge fan of the game. But that was the thing I liked about him. He's humble. These guys are humble guys."

Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who has been coming to this game since 2002, has seen them all. He played with one in New England, Randy Moss, and he's not ready to wrap up the eras in a neat little package.

But he can't help admire Green. Both played at Georgia and are from South Carolina.

"I think guys are different; every guy has his own personality," Seymour said. "But I do admire the way that Fitzgerald and A.J. and Andre Johnson carry themselves because you're not bigger than the game. At the end of the day, it's the kind of man you are off the field. We're fortunate to play this game, but it's only a small window. You never want to burn bridges."

Like Fitzgerald and Green, Jennings is the anti-diva. You can put a full circle around him. He was the one player the league brought out for its Pro Bowl news conference on Tuesday, smooth and thoughtful. He's not ready to say the generation has rebelled against its elders.

But, he sees a difference, too.

"The quiet assassins; there's no need to say anything," Jennings said. "They're definitely doing it the right way. When you look back over the years, the Cris Carters, the Jerry Rices, those types of guys, they took care of business in-house. They might have had some qualms, they might have wanted the ball every time and you knew it. But they never criticized, never made it public in the media."

And there were chances in Green Bay, except that diva turned out to be the quarterback in Jennings's first two seasons of '06 and '07.

"I was very fortunate; it's a unique group," he said. "Very unselfish and they understand it's going to be all day, and sometimes it's not."

Jennings espouses the Marvin Lewis Creed when talking about this thing. The lower the profile the better it is because there's no reason to get the defense riled up.

"For a receiver, you don't want to draw any added and unnecessary attention to yourself," Jennings said. "It's obvious guys on the other side of the ball are going to play well. You're not going to always have the best day every single time you step out there on the gridiron. They're going to contest every single ball. You don't want to enhance that microscope that's already on you."

Jennings had his own microscope trained on guys like Green and he likes what he sees.

"From Day One when I first saw him in preseason," Jennings said, "he was still raw, but during the course of the season you just were glad to see a player that got better and better as the weeks progressed. He'll be a very talented and special player and he kept his mouth closed and you don't really hear much about him. But you could see his body of work."

Wallace could fit in that category, too.

"I like to be low-profile; I just go about my business," Wallace said. "A.J. is a real good guy, cool guy. Everybody knows he's a great player. He's a young Randy Moss."

No, he's not. But we know what you mean.

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