Stretching the Field: Breaking down barriers

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Updated: 10/10/2013 11:49 am

(SportsNetwork.com) - All men are created equal.

The Declaration of Independence reads so. It also states that mankind should never be stripped of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Playing in the NFL generally gives its members a higher standard of all three privileges, especially for the ones making seven figures. Calvin Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald are a part of that upper echelon in earnings. But another thing they all have in common is that they're African American.

The black athlete has dominated since the dawn of time. Whether it's track, basketball, boxing or football, they have etched their name in the record books and entertained millions across the globe. And they still do.

The same goes for whites. Much like the aforementioned group of outstanding wide receivers, there are currently some white wide receivers climbing up the talent ladder and making a name for themselves. Eric Decker, Jordy Nelson, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Brian Hartline are some of the more gifted white receivers and have turned the position into a racial melting pot.

Decker and Welker have contributed to the Denver Broncos' success this season and it helps that Peyton Manning is throwing them the ball. Along with Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, Decker and Welker keep the competition in Denver at an all-time high. Decker is second on the team in receiving yards with 427 and Welker is second in receptions. Welker leads the Broncos with seven touchdown receptions in his first year with the Broncos.

"Well, we don't put limitations on ourselves," Welker said of his team after rallying to beat Dallas this past Sunday. "We just go out there and our deal is to go out there and score. That's what we want to do. We want to go out there and score points and make plays. No matter what the score is, we just go out there and try to put points on the board."

Edelman is fortunate to play with a future Hall of Famer, too, in New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady is known for making something out of nothing, as the roster for the Pats tends to turn over more than a crew at McDonald's. Edelman is one of Brady's low-key weapons and leads the team in both catches (36) and receiving yards (354).

Had Danny Amendola, another white receiver, been able to stay healthy, Edelman's numbers may be different. Amendola has appeared in just two games because of a groin injury.

Nelson also falls into the category of having a great quarterback and is one of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' favorite targets. Nelson is tops on the Packers with 371 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while he sits second behind Randall Cobb in receptions with 23. Cobb has 25.

Black or white, the term is just a color metaphor for ethnicity. Both races were instrumental in making what the NFL is today, especially from the wide receiver position. Today's players are just following in their footsteps.

How many kids growing up wanted to be like Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Bob Hayes, Jerry Rice or Steve Largent? Probably all of them. Swann's incredible catch against Dallas in the Super Bowl or Biletnikoff's love affair with that gooey substance called Stickum lured you in to the game.

Paul Warfield's ability to leap over men and instill fear into a defense is imitated by today's players, black or white.

Not too many players, though, have the hands like Rice or Cris Carter. Carter's one-handed grabs and toe drags in the end zone or sideline were one of a kind. Rice used to chase down horses and put his body through rigorous workouts like sprinting up hills that stretch more than a mile. Those skills are just insane, but they're the reason why they have busts in Canton, Ohio.

Largent is arguably the best white receiver to ever play. He made Jim Zorn look like Johnny Unitas with his lightning quickness and spectacular hands, which were never covered with gloves. Don't forget about these other white wideouts: Cris Collinsworth, Ricky Proehl, Wayne Chrebet, Bill Schroeder and Joe Jurevicius. You can mix in tight ends, but that's a whole other story.

No matter race, color or creed, the NFL brings them all together.

Perhaps the rest of the world should follow suit.

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