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On Monday night of the NFL’s Week 10, the Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins made a positively silly one-handed TD catch. Twenty years ago, Harry Kalas would have cleared his schedule to narrate an NFL Films video special about it. Today? Yeah, it was nice, we say, but it wasn’t Odell. Thus the state of receiving: With NFL teams averaging a record 263.2 receiving yards per game, the extraordinary happens weekly; the sublime is but a pass away. QBs manage the game. Receivers are The Show. Just ask Antonio Brown and T.Y. Hilton, who ran crossing routes from the same neighborhood to NFL stardom. Or ask evolutionary leap Rob Gronkowski if tomorrow’s top receivers might well be tight ends. Or ask Braxton Miller, former Ohio State QB, whose best option play has been a shift to receiver. Next time he snares a one-handed TD, think he’ll miss throwing the ball?
ON THE COVER: In “Crossing in the End Zone,” senior writer Mina Kimes explores how the paths of youth football buddies T.Y. Hilton and Antonio Brown reconnected in the NFL. Brown and Hilton grew up in the same neighborhood, born to fathers who also grew up in that neighborhood. But their lives took different turns. The story examines how two kids who started in the same place but whose paths diverged dramatically ended up in the same place once again: as two of the best receivers in the NFL.
Wide Receivers Issue features and highlights
Preferred Passing Lanes
The Mag examines the steady decline in the number of catches made in the most dangerous part of the field—over the middle. This season wide receivers are catching 25 percent fewer balls over the middle than they did in 2009. The piece also provides a by-the-numbers look at where the rest of the passes are going. By Luke Knox
How exactly is the NFL’s best receiver … a tight end? This piece breaks down three plays that demonstrate why New England’s Rob Gronkowski is so unstoppable—basically, he’s too big and too fast to take down. By Matt Bowen
A Show of Hands
No body part is more integral to an athlete’s success than a receiver’s hands. The Mag asked DeAndre Hopkins and Julian Edelman to show their hands and tell their stories. By Morty Ain and Stacey Pressman
Also in this issue:
- The Truth: Columnist Howard Bryant examines the ramifications of “paid patriotism,” which has come to light in a recent report from Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake. For the past few years, professional teams have been taking money from the Department of Defense for military-themed programs and tributes embedded into the game-day experience. Bryant writes that the public is being robbed of taxes and trust, while soldiers are being used. In post-9/11 America, the overlap of sports, military and first responders has gone too far, Bryant writes, creating a dizzying array of conflicting images and distorted history, especially when much of these initiatives are rooted in profit, not goodwill.
- College football: This time two seasons ago, Ohio State QB Braxton Miller was mentioned in the same breath as Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota—as a Heisman potential and surefire first-rounder. But then he hurt his shoulder and the Buckeyes’ eventually rode the arms of two young QBs to a national title last season. Miller dropped to third string, but instead of spending his final season carrying a clipboard or playing QB at another school, he has found success in a new role—as a receiver. The Mag’s Brett Forrest gives readers an inside look at one of the most high-profile position switches in college football in “Route Adjustment.”
- NBA: The Timberwolves’ Kevin Garnett, known for his ferocious intensity both on the court and off, has mentored dozens of NBA stars throughout his 21-year career, with varying degrees of success. His latest project, No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, may be the most important of his career. In “The Cruel Tutelage of Kevin Garnett,” Jackie MacMullan explains why the Timberwolves, after a decade of ineptitude, are betting the farm on Garnett and his checkered history of bringing along young stars.
- NBA: The Mag’s Robert Sanchez follows Jahlil Okafor from draft night to the first few games as the young leader for the Philadelphia 76ers, a team very much in the rebuilding stage. The first-round draft pick is used to winning, through all his years of high school ball and at Duke, where the Blue Devils won a national title. In “The Lonely Burden of Jahlil Okafor,” Sanchez chronicles the rookie’s progression as he adapts to his new reality.
- Outdoors: At 5-foot-1 and 100 pounds, 14-year-old Ashima Shiraishi is the best teenage climber in the world, male or female. Some consider her the best female climber in the world regardless of age. But can she reach the height of her father’s ambition? Elizabeth Weil shares Ashima’s story in “On the Edge of Magical.”
Carrie Kreiswirth – (646) 547-4686 or email@example.com
Jen Cingari – (646) 547-5840 or firstname.lastname@example.org