Lose-Lose Situation

Last week Donte Whitner guaranteed a playoff berth for the Bills. Nothing good comes out of such a statement, says BFR's Marc Heintzman.

Bills fans everywhere were slapping their foreheads last week when they heard Donte Whitner had already made a playoff guarantee for the 2008 season in an article about his mentoring of first-round draft pick, Leodis McKelvin. Football critics were quick to crush his optimistic prediction, citing the team's youth and not-so-spectacular 2007 showing. Seeing as training camp has yet to begin, Whitner was quite premature with his remarks, and would be wise to keep such comments to himself – at least until the team has won a few games.

It is obvious that Whitner has become one of the more vocal leaders on the Bills this off-season. He's made appearances on national television and radio talking about the team, and all the progress they've made in improving the team. There's also the mentoring of McKelvin that further highlights his leadership role on the team.

With this role, it's only natural for Whitner to try and inspire his time by setting goals for them to meet. This goal of reaching the playoffs is one that teams strive for every year, and it's one that the Bills have had now for over eight years. Fans have every reason to be optimistic that this will finally be the year they make it back into the post-season. The team is better, the offense will be different, there are many returning veterans, and their schedule is manageable.

Making that push into the playoffs in January is definitely something they can achieve, but you don't go saying that as if it were set in stone. There's no free pass to the playoffs, you have to earn it and that should go without saying. If you want to use the playoffs as a goal for your team, then keep it to the locker room. If you and your teammates know you can do it, keep it to yourself and let your play do the talking for you.

The NFL is no stranger to these types of guarantees, and Donte Whitner is not the only player to do this sort of thing. Many players have shot their mouth off, guaranteeing a Super Bowl, or a win on Sunday, and for what reason?

To me, the guarantee is the most worthless, and stupid thing an athlete can do to himself and his team. What do you really gain from making outlandish comments and predictions? Sure it will get your name in the paper, but for all the wrong reasons, it just shows you as a cocky player who is looking to be knocked down a peg or two. And what happens if you do in fact make good on your prediction? There's no bonus or prize, that's what people expect of you, to do your job. I don't understand why players are constantly making predictions and putting themselves in lose-lose situations.

Whitner should have thought before throwing his team into this unwanted spotlight of attention. This is a team that has worked hard over the past seasons to build up a reputation for themselves, and now they have to deal with not only the media gunning for them to lose, but also it gives other teams ammunition on Sundays. Remember when Tom Brady called out Steelers safety Anthony Smith, who guaranteed a win against the Pats, after scoring on them, and then eventually beating them? Well, teams would love to wag their fingers in the face of a defeated Bills team this season, so why give them the platform to do so?

If you step back and look at the situation, it really isn't that bad and a guarantee from a player really isn't that big a deal. But, with the amount of attention paid to the NFL by the media, and the examination of every little detail pertaining to teams, players have to be careful with what they say. In today's world, it will be blown out of proportion, and everyone will hear about it, good or bad. In this case, it is an un-necessary thing to say and it just reflects poorly on the team, whether they make the playoffs or not.

Next time, Donte Whitner would be wise to instill confidence in his team using methods other than making pointless guarantees.


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