When the whole Michael Vick debacle transpired, times couldn't have been darker in Atlanta. Nobody was looking forward to a season with Joey Harrington as quarterback featuring several declining veterans in Warrick Dunn, Joe Horn, and Alge Crumpler. As a freshman in high school during the 2007 season, friends would poke fun at my loyalty as a Falcon fan. They were all jumping for joy as Giant fans or anticipating disappointment as Jet fans. I was the Falcons fan that knew Sundays were going to be depressing.
While the season was a complete disaster, one young player emerged as a certified star. Roddy White caught 83 passes for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns with Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman throwing to him. It was a remarkable development for a player that struggled with drops and wasn't taking his career seriously. His breakout season gave fans hope that the Falcons were going to have a legitimate number one wide receiver for the first time since Terance Mathis was breaking franchise records.
From his game-winning touchdown against Baltimore to Richard Sherman applauding him following a forty-seven yard touchdown, the beautiful memories are endless. White was a true warrior that played every game from 2007 to 2012. In his prime, not many receivers were more dependable on a weekly basis. Some may have been turned off by his personality or unfiltered thoughts, but you always had to respect him. Fan favorites such as Dunn, Crumpler, John Abraham, and Keith Brooking were either released or not re-signed. Those were sad moments, yet none of them come close to matching the magnitude of White's departure. Nobody will forget this day. Hopefully, everyone remembers White's longevity as one of the top players in Falcons history over the past decade.
Where to begin?
I remember being certain the Falcons had drafted yet another bust after his infamous drop against the Saints back in 2006. But things were different the following season, and even though 2007 was a catastrophe all around, we'll all remember the lone bright spot being the emergence of Roddy White.
There are too many great memories I have of White. Let's begin with his All-Pro season in 2010 â that year, he caught just about everything thrown his way. His performances against the Baltimore Ravens (game-winning touchdown reception) and the Cincinnati Bengals (outdueling both Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens) are two of my favorites from that season.
In 2012, he overcame a knee injury to show up big against the Detroit Lions. And don't forget the tremendous deep catch he made against the Carolina Panthers early in that season to help the Falcons steal a victory.
And off the field, his candidness was usually hilarious and always appreciated.
I could go on and on, really. White gave the Falcons everything he had on every Sunday. Watching him play was a real treat. He was one of the Falcons' fiercest competitors and he'll certainly be missed.
As I try to recall my favorite thing about Roddy White, I can't help but sit here and wonder why the team didn't keep him around for another year. After publicly coming out and saying, "We should've kept McClure longer.", the team cuts another player that they probably should have kept longer. While the answers to that will hopefully become more clear in the coming months, that sentiment does little to soothe the current sadness that is this Falcons fan.
You'll see a lot of the same memories from the group here, so I want to draw attention to something a little different regarding Roddy. Did you know he has Matt Ryan's longest touchdown pass? Week 5, 2009, it's 3rd down, and the Falcons are backed up deep in their own end on their own 10. Roddy White catches a well-thrown curl, breaks a tackle, and then takes it the rest of the 90 yards himself. It was just one of the many times that Roddy White answered the bell for us, and now you know the answer to a trivia question 10 years from now.
I think my favorite memory of Roddy will always be the 2012 SF game, when Matty threw what should've been a game-sealing interception late in the game, only to have Roddy chase down Nate Clements and punch the ball out, giving the Falcons one more crack at it. I was sitting in the end zone opposite of where the action happened, so imagine my confusion when ¾ of the Dome is sad and one tiny corner of the Dome is cheering. It's not the Ravens TD or the Panthers huge catch, but it's a testament to never giving up, even when the situation is dire.
It's a shame the team didn't feel the same way about him.
There are honestly way too many memories of Roddy to list my favorite singular memory. So I'm going to give y'all my overview of Roddy as a fan. From the day he was drafted to opening day in 2007, I had no faith that Roddy was going to be anything but a No. 2 his whole career.
Then opening day 2007 happened. Roddy didn't have a great day as a receiver statistically, but something was different about Roddy on this day. His routes were crisper. His blocking was stronger. His overall play was just better. Something was just clicking. I picked him up for every fantasy team I had from that point forward. And he rewarded me the very next week with an 81 yard game. A week later, he really broke out for 120 yards and a TD. That early blossoming to his career was ominous to just how good he could be.
From 2007 to 2012, Roddy was one of the top five receivers in the NFL year in and year out. He posted a streak of 80-plus catches, 1150-plus yards, and six touchdowns per season during those years. That six season streak over those markers was only bested by Jerry Rice's streak of eight consecutive seasons above those markers. His consistency was what made Roddy great. He was always going to be the reliable section of the offense regardless of the running game or quarterback.
He helped Matt Ryan become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He helped teach Julio Jones how to be a great NFL receiver. He helped the Falcons offense turn into one of the better units of the late 2000's and early 2010's. There's not a single moment from Roddy White that stands out, as my personal favorite. What stands out from Roddy White was how his body of work as a Falcon has made him the best Falcons receiver of all time. Because of how he has bled, sweat and struggled with the Falcons for his career, he will always be one of my personal favorites.
Sure, I could go on at length about Roddy's hilarious Tweets, his ability to get open on critical third downs by a combination of sheer guile and wizardry, or the remarkable consistency the man displayed during his prime, fighting through nagging injuries and always getting on the field to help the team. I could do that, but I won't, because you want to know what I loved about Roddy White all these years, and I can give you that in a few short words: Pretty much everything.
Nathan Butler Jr.
Roddy will always be one of my favorite Falcons ever.
I'll never forget in 2007 during the entire Michael Vick saga and all of the negativity that was surrounding the team, one of the most unexpected players on the team stepped up and gave signs of hope for a bright future and his name was Roddy White. I wasn't a fan of Roddy in 2005 and 2006 and thought he didn't have much to offer the Falcons; however, it was against the Carolina Panthers when we saw the beginning of #84's legacy in Atlanta.
After drafting Matt Ryan in 2008, the Falcons couldn't have put together a better combination and Roddy became one of the league's most consistent receivers, earned Pro Bowl trips, destroyed records in the Falcons record books and became a fan favorite. In 2011, with the addition of Julio Jones, the potential of the Falcons were really high and we all had dreams of possibly hoisting a Lombardi. The following season, we watched him and Jones completely destroy the league and earn us a top seed. How could we all forget Roddy's huge touchdown against Richard Sherman and the Seattle Seahawks and getting the chance to play a NFC Championship Game at home for the first time ever. There's so many memories he gave us and I'll never forget #84
As the others have said, there are so many great memories of Roddy over the past decade. It was truly a pleasure to watch as he went from a surefire "bust" to one of the greatest receivers to ever wear the red and black. Whether it was a comeback route perfectly timed with Matt, or a sideline tip-toe to convert a third down, it always seemed like Roddy was where he was supposed to be at exactly the right moment.
For me, there are two plays I'll forever remember. The first was against Seattle in the 2012 playoffs. Richard Sherman had spent time dissing Roddy and speaking about how he respected Julio but not the elder of the two receivers. How fitting was it that it would be Roddy - and not Julio - that would beat the Seattle secondary deep for a long touchdown in that game? The smile on his face after pulling that catch in is still in my mind.
The second play came during the 2014 season, in game one against the Saints. At the end of the second quarter, Ryan rolls out of the pocket and goes left and puts air under the ball. The pass itself was into some traffic, as there were several defenders around the area. Roddy would leap up, pull the ball in with his hands while crashing hard into the Dome turf. Of course, he would hold onto the ball and the Falcons would kick a field goal going into halftime. That play demonstrated how tough White has been throughout his time here as well as how dependable he has been.
God, I'm going to miss seeing Roddy in the red and black.