Eric Decker is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He’s also white. That puts him squarely in the minority – not only in the NFL, but also at his position.
Most definitely at his position.
“I always joke that I was always the token white guy of the group,” Decker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “That’s just the way the business is. There’s so much more athletic players that are African-American in that position. It’s always fun, I guess, to be the token (white guy).”
Decker, 28, was a third-round pick in 2010. He was one of Peyton Manning’s top targets in 2012 and 2013, during which he had 172 catches for 2,352 yards and 24 touchdowns.
But then Decker signed a five-year deal with the New York Jets. Conventional wisdom said that he wouldn’t be anywhere close to the receiver he was in Denver, mainly because his quarterbacks were Geno Smith and, this year, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Well, Decker has done just fine in New York, totaling 154 catches for 1,989 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons. No, those numbers aren’t quite as prolific as they were during his final two seasons in Denver, but he also went from a pass-happy offense to a run-heavy offense. And did we mention that Geno Smith is no Peyton Manning?
For Decker, though, the proof is in the pudding: No matter who the quarterback is, he is going to produce. There’s pride in that.
“There’s always personal pride involved, to be honest,” said Decker, who has 50 touchdowns in 92 career games. “That was a label that I had coming out. I’ve always been fighting it. I always feel like I’m kind of the underdog, whether it was college or coming into the pros. (People thought), ‘What’s the guy going to be able to do?’ It just allows me to have some motivation (and) fuel the fire when I get into the offseason and get working. And then when I get into the season, I take great pride in my work ethic and the ability I have. The consistency that I want to have throughout my career, it will always be there with me, I think. But it was good to have a good season.”