Anquan Boldin has the talent, the contract and the fearless attitude that seem inherently linked to being a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL.
The part about the whining, acting like a diva, and brandishing a me-first mentality? He must've missed that section of Playing Professional Football 101.
That's why the Ravens wide receiver insisted that he won't berate or cajole quarterback Joe Flacco into throwing the ball in his direction – beginning with Sunday night's showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.
"I've been on that side," said Boldin, a former quarterback who played that position through high school and until his freshman year at Florida State. "I've played quarterback, and I've had guys in my ear. So I know the feeling. I think any player, quarterback or coach will recognize that situation. So I don't feel the need to go up there and let him know that he needs to get me the ball."
That temperament is quite a departure from some espoused by his NFL brethren, but for Boldin, it's about setting priorities.
He's already set league records, becoming the fastest player to reach 400, 500 and 600 receptions. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2003 and has been selected to three Pro Bowls.
Boldin has tasted the pinnacle of every football player's objective, reaching the Super Bowl in 2008 only to fall short of capturing the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 2008. Going one step farther — not improving his statistics — is what drives him now.
"I've achieved personal numbers my whole career," Boldin said. "Fastest to this, only guy to ever do this, Pro Bowls here and there, I've done that. I'm at a point in my career where the only thing that matters to me is a championship."
His attitude about personal numbers couldn't be more timely considering that he is in the midst of one of his least productive stretches of his career.
Boldin has compiled just two 100-yard games this season — which would tie career lows set in 2004 and 2007. And his last 100-yard performance was a 142-yard, three-touchdown display against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 26.
In three of his last four contests, Boldin has registered no more than three catches and no more than 29 yards.
After Boldin caught three passes for 27 yards in the team's 17-10 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday, fans flooded the Internet questioning why Flacco and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron weren't delivering the ball to the team's biggest — in stature and financial terms — acquisition in the offseason.
Boldin, who was unaware of the clamoring, said the criticism is somewhat harsh.
"I know what goes into it," he said. "I know it's not intentional. The offensive coordinator is not calling plays to not get the ball in my hands. Don't get me wrong. Every football player wants to have the ball in his hands and wants to make a play. I'm the same way. I'm no different. But I also understand that teams are going to try to take an option away."
The Buccaneers bracketed Boldin, frequently shading their coverage to whatever side of the field Boldin was standing on. It's a strategy that the Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Steelers have employed this season.
Wide receivers coach Jim Hostler said the coaches can help Boldin alter opposing defenses' alignments by stacking Boldin with one or two of his teammates and motioning him to the other side of the field before the ball is snapped.
But Hostler said Boldin is just as likely to tell the coaches to leave him alone and go to players who are in single coverage.
"The unique thing about Anquan is, Anquan's been brought up as a quarterback. So he sees the big picture, understands the overview of what's going on in an offense and understands because of that background," said Hostler a former offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers. "So he has a unique perspective on the game from that perspective because you usually get the usual answers [from players]. But Anquan doesn't give you the usual because he understands the big picture."
The extra attention that Tampa Bay paid to Boldin allowed Derrick Mason to catch eight balls for 87 yards and a touchdown and tight end Todd Heap to get wide open on a seam route and run 45 yards into the end zone. Those plays help Boldin ease the irritation of being double-teamed.
"Actually, it's almost like a compliment because they feel like they can't match up one-on-one," Boldin said. "So they've got to get help to that side. They feel like if they line up one-on-one, you can beat them. For me, it's a compliment when teams bracket me."
Flacco said Boldin isn't shy about conferring with him and Cameron about what he recognizes during games.
"He definitely sees things out there and wants to let the coordinator and wants to let me know when they're playing certain things," Flacco said. "But for the most part, he's going to let us play the game, and if he really feels strongly about something, then that's when he's going to let you know."
So does that mean that Boldin won't complain?
"I think you can tell when everybody is a little bit upset, but he's not going to go up to you and complain," Flacco said. "Not as of yet."