White's Way Is the Wrong Way

A disturbing trend has developed for the Atlanta star who turned in back-to-back 100 catch seasons...

ATLANTA -- For most Atlanta players, the season ended rather abruptly on Jan. 8, when the offensively challenged Falcons lost a playoff game to the eventual Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants.

But for wide receiver Roddy White, a disturbing pattern that developed during a campaign in which he registered 100 receptions for the second consecutive year, but also led the NFL in muffed passes, apparently has continued into the offseason.

Typical of a 2011 season in which he botched at least 14 passes (one statistics-related site actually pegged the number at 15), White has dropped the ball.

Wonder what Gisele Bundchen would think.

For folks residing in caves, the deliciously quotable but frequently misguided White took to his Twitter account again this week to rip commissioner Roger Goodell for a salary that will eventually reach a reported $20 million annually. That figure was first reported by Sports Business Journal and subsequently confirmed to The Sports Xchange by several league owners.

As is the case anymore in this era of antisocial media, the tweet went viral, and White gained another 15 minutes of fame. Or perhaps infamy, since the Atlanta wide receiver seems to obliviously reside in a universe of virtual unreality.

The obtuse rationale of White was that Goodell has never caught a pass, made a tackle, or delivered a forearm shiver. It's kind of like the same mindset used by the critics of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who suggest that most members of the 44-person selection committee never strapped on a helmet, and, thus, are unqualified to sit in judgment on the Canton shrine's finalists. Having been uncharacteristically restrained to this point on the latter matter, we'll refrain, and leave it for another day. But the same people who make such arguments, albeit perhaps not White, regularly turn to George Will, or Sean Hannity, or Bill O'Reilly for their daily dose of political update.

Last time we checked, none of those guys had run for, much less held, public office. That fact doesn't preclude them from prospering as pundits.

Look, unlike some of his apologist minions, we don't agree with everything Goodell has done in his tenure. In fact, there are occasions when Goodell seems to have taken on the mantle of predecessor Paul Tagliabue, only with less condescension and more of a smile. His pursuit of an 18-game schedule was as unpopular with fans as with players, the infatuation with overseas games is unwarranted, and at his annual "State of the League" news conference during Super Bowl week, he rebuffed every premise that questioned the NFL's direction.

But he has, even though players have chafed over his continued role in doling out punitive actions, navigated the game through a lockout that seemingly became an afterthought in 2011. Goodell has negotiated new network contracts that will further fill the coffers of his constituent owners but also generate additional revenues for the players as well. He has emphasized the importance of taking care of the game's former players, continued Tagliabue's strong initiative toward improved diversity, and focused more attention on concussions and head injuries.

Back in the 1980s, a period marked by labor strife and work stoppages, the popular rallying cry of the NFL rank-and-file was that "the players are the game." Thirty-some years later, that's still the case, but fans have also, in the age of free agency and roster-churning, learned to cheer for uniforms as much as the surnames stitched across the back of them.

The players, nonetheless, are richer than ever. So, too, are the owners. And, a fact overlooked by White, the commissioners are lavishly rewarded as well. Also ignored by White: The man who signs his paychecks, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, rather ironically is the chairman of the NFL's compensation committee, which approved the Goodell deal.

Make no mistake, White is an incredibly candid player, a go-to guy for the media both local and national, a man devoid of pretense. And, at times, absent common sense, too. There are times, when his mouth does the talking, that he articulates himself into trouble. When his fingers do the talking, via his Twitter account, the results are usually problematic.

White, 30, has become a star over the past five years in particular, when he has averaged 94.2 receptions and 8.4 touchdowns, and rung up 1,000 yards in every season. The seven-year veteran and former first-round draft choice (2005) has been to four Pro Bowl games. Although he is prone to mope when he isn't targeted enough early in a game, White has blossomed as a top-shelf pass catcher.
While we're far too Neanderthal to grasp the attraction of Twitter, White is entitled to his opinion, but he might want to pause and think before he tweets.

In 2009, before the team awarded White a six-year, $50 million contract extension, Falcons officials suggested he would cash in the big money only when he divested himself of some hangers-on Atlanta executives viewed dubiously. The Falcons can't take that money away, take away White's cell phone, or unilaterally close down his Twitter account. But someone in the organization at least needs to point out to the wide receiver that he needs to exercise at least some degree of common sense in his frequent public pontifications.

Because once again, as was the case so often in 2011, White's hands failed him

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