The day after his name became the two most hated words in New Orleans since “last call,” Roddy White played it perfectly.
He laughed. He cracked jokes. He admitted he goofed and apologized to all who want to dunk him in a pot of gumbo.
When asked if he planned to launch any more missiles on Twitter this week, he responded: “No. I’m done for the week.”
Then after a smile: “Tuesday, I will Tweet.”
Say this for White: While several athletes or celebrities would’ve avoided the media Thursday or launched into a tirade about how something they said or did (or Tweeted) was somebody else’s fault, the Falcons’ wide receiver handled things like he graduated with honors from the school of public relations.
To New Orleans residents and Saints fans he might’ve offended: “I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to offend anybody with that stuff, especially the city of New Orleans. Some people just take things out of context. That’s not where I was aiming at.”
As to whether he sometimes regrets things he says on Twitter or his video blog: “Um, yeah. A couple of times. I wish I wouldn’t have said [perceived derisive comments] about [the Saints] winning the Super Bowl and [the city]. I really didn’t say anything about the hurricane but they took it that way. I wasn’t trying to say anything mean about the city. I’m a football player and this is a sports topic. Everybody took it like, ‘He hopes the city of New Orleans dies or something.’ I mean, come on, are you serious? Seriously? That’s not me.”
White’s not a vicious or mean-spirited guy. He has some goofball in him. That’s both one of his charms and, in the case Wednesday, something that makes you slap your forehead occasionally.
He jumped the rails Wednesday and he knows it. Trent Dilfer, a former NFL quarterback and ESPN commentator, said some things and White reacted with a humorous assault on Twitter. (”No chance in hell the Aints come into the dome and win once trent dilfer.”)
The Saints’ Will Smith, taking exception to the “Aints” comment, fired back. Then White fired back just a little too much. The comment he regrets the most: ““The grace of god gave them [that] championship so [the] city wouldn’t fall apart and now they think they’re hot [stuff] …”
New Orleans residents took it as a slap at the city being left in ruins following Hurricane Katrina. They returned fire on Twitter, bombarding @RoddyWhiteTV with some of the most vile and profane comments he had ever seen.
In the overwhelming understatement of the day, White said: “They don’t like me over there,” adding that he’s glad Monday’s game against New Orleans is a home game because, “They [Saints fans] would probably throw some things at me. That would be bad.”
He lamented that some fans on Twitter took his comments way too serious, saying, “They took it to a whole nother level. [But] I guess you get what you deserve when you say stuff.”
For Falcons management and coaches, this was a rare firestorm in a pleasantly quiet season. They would prefer things be kept low key. It’s one of the characteristics that has helped this team to a 12-2 record.
Still, some teammates had some fun with the story. Tony Gonzalez, who dresses a few cubicles down from White, joked: “It’s just like boxing. We’re promoting the fight. Roddy’s promoting the fight. He’s our Don King.”
Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad career option for White. Probably better than politics.