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
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
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
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
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
White's Way Is the Wrong Way
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