He was not the fastest. Nor was he the tallest. In addition, he was not the most sure-handed receiver.
What he was to Falcons fans was something better, and much more simple. He was Roddy.
The Falcons recently announced plans to hold a special retirement ceremony on Monday, June 12th for White, alongside former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The duo represent two of the more popular and well-recognized Falcons in recent history. For Vick, it is a special moment that that once seemed like little more than a remote possibility.
For White, it is the final bow on what was definitely an interesting, productive career. It was one that began with the hard truth of the NFL meeting a ton of raw talent, the winding pathway of unforgettable quotes, and the straightaway lane that represented his consistency and production.
A slow start
His time in Atlanta started off fairly slow. Coming out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the former 27th overall selection in the 2005 draft, White was deemed as a raw prospect with plenty of talent but nowhere near the profound skill set needed to have an immediate impact.
White totaled 59 catches and three touchdowns in his first two seasons combined. While he averaged 15.4 and 16.9 yards per catch in his first and second season respectively, the ‘bust’ label was tossed around a little bit. According to Sporting Charts, White hauled in 42% and 46% of his targets, which represented the two lowest percentages in that category in his entire career. There was plenty of doubt headed his way early on.
If there was one thing we learned about White during his career in Atlanta, its that somehow, in some form or fashion, the South Carolina native will find a way.
We started to see that resiliency in the 2007 season, where White began a streak of six straight seasons with 80 or more catches, at least 1,150 receiving yards, and at least six touchdowns. During that span, White also reached four Pro-Bowls and a first team All-Pro honor in 2010. It was a remarkable transformation.
Staring at adverse circumstances which included the inexplicable departure of former head coach Bobby Petrino, as well as the struggle to get over the playoff hump during the Mike Smith tenure, White still managed to produce. Walking away as the all-time franchise leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns is not too shabby at all, and while he obviously had great quarterbacks throwing to him, Roddy had a remarkable knack for getting open and reeling in catches.
White left many of lasting memories in the minds of Falcons fans near and abroad. His 47-yard touchdown catch against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2012 NFC Divisional Round Game, mind you while being covered by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, is a play that many resonate to when discussing White. The 59-yard pitch-and-catch from Matt Ryan to White against the Carolina Panthers in 2012 also replays in the mind of fans as it helped set up a game-winning field goal.
Behind the mic, White always spoke his mind. At times, there were feather-ruffling statements from White. But I learned early on his career that White is a different breed and most of the time, you just have to let Roddy be Roddy.
It was an eventful 11-year career for White in the Red & Black. So many seasons of big plays, tough catches, and constant reliability. Thank you, Roddy.