Donte Whitner is one of the more controversial Bills to come through Buffalo in recent years. The former #8 overall pick has been a pretty decent NFL safety…but hasn’t come close to the game-changing safety you’d hope to get with a top-10 pick. To make matters worse, he has the tendency to make bold proclamations about his own ability, trash his own organization, and lash out at anyone who dares criticize him – including challenging people to boxing matches via Twitter.
The man who Whitner challenged to that boxing match is Patrick Moran, publisher of the excellent Buffalo Sports Daily. If you haven’t checked out Buffalo Sports Daily, you definitely should if you’re at all interested in the Buffalo professional, college, or high school sports scenes. Anyway, Mr. Moran has written some rather unflattering wordsabout Mr. Whitner over the past year…some of which led Whitner to challenge Moran to that fight.
To his credit, Patrick didn’t back off after that, claiming that he stood by everything he said. A small sample of Patrick’s article after Whitner’s boxing tweet:
"Whitner foolishly talks and conducts himself like an elite safety.He embarrassed the organization publicly in 2008 after personally guarantying the Bills would make the playoffs. He backed up his words with zero interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble in 13 games as the Bills became the first team in NFL history to start a season 4-0 and finish dead last in their division.He isn’t elite and it’s not close. I’ve recited the numbers before and will do so again. Five full NFL seasons with five total interceptions, two sacks, three forced fumbles and one defensive touchdown. He then publicly boasts that he expect to be paid like a top safety, when his five-year career numbers are about a month’s work for guys who actually deserve that kind of money: Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, etc."
Interestingly, Moran published an article recently at Buffalo Sports Daily which was very surprisinggiven his history with Whitner. Here’s a quick sample:
"I no longer think Whitner is a bad dude at all. I’ve talked with several current and a few former Bills players and to a man they say Whitner truly is a stand up guy and a leader in the locker room. I hear persistently that for better and worse the man wears his heart on his sleeve. The tears that came from his eyes following an overtime loss last season weren’t alligator tears—they were real. His teammates genuinely like him and the guy does an awful lot for charity that doesn’t go reported in the newspapers."
Patrick had plenty more of positive things to say about Whitner in the article, including that he believes that Whitner would “walk through fire to be part of a championship team.” It’s a very good read, and I’ll recommend you check it out.
So who is Donte Whitner? A raging egomanic who can’t criticism? Or a man who takes failure hard and is simply desperate to be a success?
I actually feel bad for Whitner. I truly believe that he has given everything he has to his career since he made it to the NFL. The man wants to win. He simply shouldn’t have ever been the #8 pick. Unless a safety is freaking Ed Reed, he’s not worth the #8 pick. If Whitner was selected in the second round or even the lower half of the first, he wouldn’t have faced half the criticism he does now. And it’s the criticism that makes him seem like a “bad guy.” Whitner is just so driven, so determined to be successful that being reminded of the fact that his career hasn’t been spectacular so far just seems to drive him insane. In his mind, failure is simply not an option, and he can’t tolerate anyone who says otherwise.
And he’s not really a failure. He really is a pretty good player…but he’s not an elite playmaking safety, and shouldn’t be paid like one.
Fortunately, there’s no way the Bills overpay for Whitner. Some other team will most likely swoop in to offer him way more than the Bills ever would.
I really would wish Donte all the best in with a new city. He has a lot to offer an NFL team. He just might need to escape Buffalo to meet his potential.