Falcons’ Roddy White has come a long way

Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports wrote a great piece about Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver Roddy White and his rise to stardom after being labeled a bust after his first two years in the NFL:

Roddy WhiteWhite hit bottom on Nov. 26, 2006, when he suffered a nationally televised embarrassment that seemed to underscore his status as a conspicuous flop. With the Falcons still fighting for the NFC South title and trailing by eight points in the fourth quarter of a prime-time showdown with the Saints at the Georgia Dome, White flashed open on the left sideline and prepared to catch a long pass from Michael Vick at the New Orleans 5-yard line.

“It was definitely the lowest moment of my life. I just dropped to my knees and thought, ‘Why does this have to happen to me?’ ”

“At that point,” White says, “I thought my days in the NFL were over.”

Looking back, White realizes his immaturity was to blame. He came into the NFL believing his considerable athletic ability – his combination of deceptive speed, strength and body control makes him a deep threat/possession hybrid reminiscent of Terrell Owens – would allow him to thrive, no matter how little work he put into perfecting his craft.

Once White’s alleged workday ended, he was all about two things: socializing and eating.
“My first year, I watched no film, other than what I had to watch at the facility,” White recalls. “I was just content to be in the NFL – and I was partying it up, living the kind of lifestyle off the field that I should’ve been living on the field.

“There were times I’d be in the club all night, then go straight from the club to the facility. That was kind of like my lifestyle. We’d have a morning meeting, and I couldn’t even stay awake.”
White’s diet, he says, “was terrible. I gained a bunch of weight. I would go to McDonald’s, and I could eat four double cheeseburgers.”

Sometimes, while sitting at a restaurant, White would hear snippets of conversation from adjacent tables that he knew were directed at him. “All of a sudden,” White says, “you’d hear someone say, ‘Dropping a ball’ or ‘He ain’t no good … we need to trade him.’ I knew what they were talking about, and I knew which way things were headed. I wondered, are [the Falcons] ever gonna give me another chance?”

Silver goes to write about how White has turned around his attitude thanks to the help of receiver coach Terry Robiskie and former Falcon Joe Horn. For the season, White also has 68 catches for an NFC-best 1,085 yards and six touchdowns.

White is a classic example of two things: 1) a team not giving up on a high draft pick after a rough start and 2) a player realizing that he’s pissing away his potential and does something about it. It has to be hard for a young athlete to stay focused after he’s been given millions of dollars and loads of free time. But the good ones stay grounded and learn from veterans in the league who have already found success. It looks like White has done that and he’s quickly becoming one of the best receivers in the league.

Even though he was one of White’s good friends, it also helps that Vick isn’t quarterbacking the Falcons these days. Aside from the obvious reasons (i.e. dog-fighting and the fact that Matt Ryan is a freaking stud), Vick threw a very unconventional ball being that it came from a left-handed arm and that it was thrown at Mach-8 speed. Ryan and backup Chris Redman, on the other hand, display touch on the ball and White has excelled.

Of course, not partying all night and laying off double-cheeseburgers have probably attributed more to White’s success…damn McDonalds…

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