Players are walking away from the NFL before their 30th birthdays rather than risking more punishment that’s not worth the extra money or accolades. When Roddy White, 34, talks about walking away, who can blame him?
White told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he will only sign with a team with a chance to go to the Super Bowl — otherwise, he’ll retire after 11 seasons, all with the Falcons.
He wasn’t diplomatic about why. He also never even hinted that he’s willing to do anything and everything to squeeze out one more season, that he’s ready to leave everyth
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Everything he told the Journal Constitution was about conditions, and everything sounded like a man who had one reason to play, and wasn’t willing to compromise on that.
"At this point of my career," White said, "I don’t want to be dragging my feet in Week 13 just to have an opportunity to be 4-10 next week."
He sees “maybe six teams” that have a chance to win the Super Bowl, and if he can’t sign with one of them, he’ll retire. Other teams have been interested, he said, but he’s not interested in them.
White has put in his time and paid his dues. He was unceremoniously cut by the Falcons in March, and speculation flew that he and the coaching staff clashed — but, he said, "I’m good with them. I’m not bitter or anything."
He was incredibly popular in Atlanta, went to four Pro Bowls, led the league in catches once, and played a major role in four playoff teams, including one that spent all of 2012 threatening to go to the franchise’s second Super Bowl ever. He believes he can still play — he’s not planning to ride some team’s coattails to get a ring. He surely knows that wherever he goes, he won’t make much money, maybe only the veteran minimum.
He’s still setting the terms for how he leaves the sport, as much as anyone can. He's subjected his body to the pounding, in-season and out, and has lost a lot of games, too. Putting himself through it again for a championship is worth it, so demanding that for his return is fair.
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He owes that to himself. All NFL players owe it to themselves these days. White went his first eight seasons never missing a game, and missed just five in all. By all accounts, he has his health and his faculties.
"I’ve been on good teams and bad teams," White said, "but at this point I don’t have the energy to be on teams that can’t win now."