It had been a while since we’ve heard from former Falcons star Roddy White. That changed Friday when he took some time to chat with me about the Falcons’ outlook for this year, seeing former teammates Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in new uniforms this season, and his investment in MoneyLine, a fun new DFS app.
MoneyLine just completed the Comcast NBCUniversal SportsTech accelerator program which finds, funds, and fast-tracks the most innovative startups from around the world so they can get implemented with leagues and teams at the highest level.
Roddy got on board with MoneyLine in part because he liked how easy it was for the casual fan to navigate, have some fun, and win money.
“You don’t have to know what +20 is or what -140 is to try to do all those things,” Roddy said. “Whatever team you love — if you love Zeke Elliott, you can bet on him if you want to. If you love Austin Ekeler, who’s going to be an investor in MoneyLine, then you could bet with Austin Ekeler. So it makes it easier for the casual fan. Folks out there that love wide receivers, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, if they want to go against each other and want to bet and want to parlay that, they can do that through the site. It’s just a platform that you can come in and just have a lot of fun with at first before you actually attempt to even bet money on it.”
I am a big fan of DFS and gave MoneyLine a shot over the weekend. Just because I’m a big fan of DFS doesn’t mean I’m good at it, and I won exactly zero dollars. But I only played a total of $10, and I had fun, which is really all that matters. I like that they give you multiple props to choose from — I took the over on Desmond Ridder and Trevor Lawrence’s passing yards for Friday’s games — and you can build out your own parlays from there. It’s really different from what you think of on DraftKings and FanDuel, where you’re setting a full DFS lineup. You also establish the total amount you want to bet on the picks you make, which makes it really easy to be disciplined with spending and play responsibly, and you win more if you’re able to establish a streak and keep it going, which hopefully I will eventually be able to do.
The NFL stands for Not For Long for a lot of players, and making a financial plan for life after football is so important. White has some advice for young players as they explore their options.
“The advice I would give to these young guys now is just do your homework, just do your homework, just get out there,” he said. “Meet some really nice guys and nice people that are business-oriented that actually want you to be inside of the business, and actually want to teach and want you to learn what’s going on throughout the websites and things like that so you can understand the full operation of how everything goes. Once you get to that and you get a team together like that, then it’s easier to invest because not only are you more in tune, you actually know what’s actually going on throughout the process.”
Moving on to football, I was curious what Roddy thinks about this year’s Falcons team, and I’m sure y’all are, too.
“Yeah, the roster literally flipped in in the last two years, with Matt Ryan going to the Colts, and bringing in Marcus Mariota to start,” White said. “It’s been a lot of turnover, but at the same time, I’m excited. This roster’s young. You know with young players you never know what to expect, but you expect them to always come out and play hard each and every week. That’s the kind of team that we want to have — a bunch of guys that have a lot of grit and grind and go out there. But I think we’ve got some really good players.”
I specifically wanted Roddy’s take on Kyle Pitts and Drake London, and had their names in my notes to ask him for his thoughts, but he was so excited about both of them that he beat me to it.
“I think Kyle [Pitts] is really coming on,” White said. “He’s really, really good, man. I just went out to a couple training camp practices just to watch him. He gets after it — I mean, he’s making plays all over the field. So it’s gonna be exciting to watch him take the next step. His progression, as you know, in the second year in the league, and then AJ Terrell really has been masterful out there, just going out there and guarding people and just to see sometimes him and Kyle match up, man, it’s, it’s a pleasure to watch.”
White is optimistic about Drake London, the Falcons’ first-round pick in 2022. EXTREMELY optimistic. Rookie of the Year optimistic.
“Drake is coming along great,” White said. ”He’s learning each and every week. He’s been there, he’s been getting better, [I’m] watching his development, man, and just talking to him, he’s coming along just fine. And I think he’ll be ready. He’s gonna make a lot of plays. I got him winning Rookie of the Year this year. I really do.”
Roddy also thinks fans can expect much-needed improvement from the offensive line this year.
“You know, I think our o-line is finally healthy. We got all of our guys ... and we just want those guys to get as much time together, to be in sequence, and to help the quarterback out and just get the run game going so we can make big plays down the field,” he said.
That will be a huge help if rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder is able to earn the starting role at some point in his first season. Roddy thinks that may happen sooner rather than later.
“I love his grasp of the offense,” Roddy said. “You know, I’m talking to Art and everything — [Ridder] picks up on things a lot faster than most rookies, probably because he’s just a little bit older, more mature than other guys. But they have a plan for him, and from what they tell me, they’re right on target with him. So he is gonna get snaps, he’s gonna get reps. I would like to see him, within the first four or five games, get in and have an opportunity to play just to see where we stand and see if he can be the quarterback of the future. I’m excited about him too, because if we can get him to QB1, he could be really, really good. And you look at it as a situation where we could build a roster fairly quickly and have an exciting team for years to come.”
One of the biggest changes in Atlanta this year is the absence of Matt Ryan, who was traded to the Colts this offseason. Roddy’s expectations are high for his former teammate in Indianapolis.
“I can tell you one thing about Matt Ryan, man, he prepares at the ultimate level,” Roddy said. “I mean, high level, he’s there Sunday to Sunday — I call him a Sunday to Sunday guy, he doesn’t skip any days, and I expect him to be consistent, I can expect him to be who he is. He’s gonna go out there and make that team better. He’s going to get the guys on board. And the Colts are gonna be a very good team this year with him.
“And because he does so many things well that they actually need at the quarterback position to help them out and with the young wide outs and stuff like that and with the experiences he’s had with me and Julio and Tony Gonzalez — all these young guys, he’s gonna have a hold on those guys to make them get to the spots that they need to be and be able to make big plays down the field. I see that team as a double-digit win football team with him being the quarterback there.”
Another big change from Roddy’s Falcons days is the departure of Julio Jones, who was traded to the Tennessee Titans last year, released, and signed with the Tampa Bay Bucs recently as a free agent. It’s got to be weird for White, who played alongside Julio for a lot of years, to see him in a Buccaneers uniform, right?
“I mean, it is kind of weird. I talk to that guy all the time, but just watching him wear that uniform after competing against those guys twice a year for like 11 years of my career and the nine years that he was in Atlanta that he competed against them — it looks different, man, but you know, it’s the business of the NFL. And he gets a chance and opportunity to play with Tom Brady man — not many players get an opportunity a chance to do that. And when they do, man, most guys take advantage of it, and they win.”
To wrap things up, I asked Roddy if he had a favorite game or favorite play from his time with the Falcons. I stumped him at first, but it didn’t take him long to come up with one of each.
“Man that’s tough. I had so many great moments, man. I just can’t name one particular game that we played — oh, I mean, yeah, I can,” he said. “The NFC division title game when we played Seattle when we beat them back home — that was probably the loudest stadium I’ve been in during my career. Our fans really came on for that one, and that was a big one for us. It was actually the first playoff win in like seven or eight years since we had won big, so the city was excited. And best play, probably — you know what? One of my best plays was — it was actually Matt threw an interception, I ran the guy down and stripped it, and then we got it back and then we ended up going back down to score.”
That, folks, was the 2010 matchup against the 49ers, when Roddy literally saved the game with that play. Here’s a refresher if your memory is hazy.
I asked Roddy if there was anything else I didn’t ask him that he wants y’all to know.
“Just pay attention to the Birds,” he said. “And as far as MoneyLine, man, just get on the app, go check it out. It’s fan friendly. Get on there, man, whatever you like to do. We’re gonna have all different bets and things like that. But for the casual fan that just loves football and just loves to put a little bit of money out there, this is the site for you. You should get on man and just bet with the best players that you like, and just watch it grow and watch you win.”