Call it a Napoleon complex. Call it short man syndrome. Call it little man disease.
Whatever you call it, it’s real. Confirmation and definitions of it exist from the upper crust of academia all the way to the urban dictionary.
This definition comes the latter: “An angry male of below average height who feels it necessary to act out in an attempt to gain respect and recognition from others and compensate for his abnormally short stature.”
Playing in the NFL at 5-foot-10, Kendall Wright is decidedly a candidate. Among the 90 players on the Tennessee Titans training camp roster only three (Dexter McCluster, Leon Washington and Waymon James) are shorter. Even one of the kickers has three inches on him.
The 2012 first-round draft pick seems utterly immune, though. He definitely is not an angry man and he doesn’t engage in the histrionics so many other wide receivers do.
“He’s a guy that doesn’t talk a whole lot but you can see his competitive spirit the way he plays the game,” quarterback Jake Locker said. “None of you could argue that with me. You watch him play the game and the emotion he plays the game with, the intensity … he’s just a football player. You can tell that and everybody else in the locker room can tell that. I think he gains respect that way.”
That, and he puts up some big numbers. Last fall he led the team and was seventh in the league with 94 receptions, the franchise’s highest single-season total in a decade and the fifth highest total in team history.
Over the last five seasons 22 different players have caught 90 or more passes in a season a total of 38 times. Just six of those 22, including Wright, were listed at smaller than six feet.
Wes Welker is the only one of the short guys to do it more than once. He did so three times, tied for the most over that span with five who 6-foot and taller. That group includes Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Jason Witten.
A look at the sub 6-foot players who caught 90 passes or more in a season from 2009 through 2013:
• Wes Welker (5-foot-9): 123 in 2009; 122 in 2011; 118 in 2012
• Antonio Brown (5-foot-10): 110 in 2013
• Steve Smith (5-foot-11): 107 in 2009
• Julian Edelman (5-foot-10): 105 in 2013
• Kendall Wright (5-foot-10): 94 in 2013
• Santana Moss (5-foot-10): 93 in 2010
(Note: The Steve Smith referenced is the one who played for the New York Giants in 2009, not the one who played for the Carolina Panthers)
Only two players in Titans/Oilers history have caught 90 or more passes in consecutive seasons. Haywood Jeffires did it in 1991 and 1992, at the height of the franchise’s run-and-shoot era, and Derrick Mason (also 5-foot-10, by the way) in 2003 and 2004.
If Wright can match – or exceed – last year’s numbers this season, therefore, it would be a notable achievement.
“I’ll be doing good if I get 95,” he said. “That’s better than it was last year. I mean, 100 is not important but if I get it that’s a good thing for me and for us. I’m not even thinking stats. I just want to be better than I was last year as an individual and as a whole team.”
Based on his size, most analysts classify Wright as a slot receiver. According to FootballOutsiders.com, though, he played more than 75 percent of the Titans’ offensive snaps in 2013, up from 55.8 percent his rookie season.
Through the first four days of this training camp, he clearly is the Titans’ No. 1 receiver.
“I love proving people wrong,” Wright said. “As long as people are saying negative things, that drives me to be what I am. It makes it that much better, that much more fun to go out there and work and be better than I was.”
OK. So maybe he has a little bit of it in him.