Whitner: Just words, nothing personal in spat with Buffalo
BEREA, Ohio – Donte Whitner believes that any trash talk or bad blood that may exist has little to do with anything that really matters when it comes to the Cleveland Browns – Buffalo Bills game Sunday.
Still, Whitner isn’t apologizing for taunting Bills fans on Twitter last summer or anything he’s said or done since.
He’s actually looking forward to the reception he’ll receive from Bills fans before playing in the first NFL stadium he called home.
"I’m sure I’ll get a standing ovation," Whitner joked.
Last summer, Whitner tweeted to Bills fans that their team would move, even asking, "Can you say Toronto Bills?" It turned into a heated exchange involving former Bills linebacker Darryl Talley that included some colorful language.
That conversation was brought up in both locker rooms Wednesday, with Bills running back Fred Jackson — a teammate of Whitner’s for four years — saying he "can’t respect anybody" who would say what Whitner said.
"Donte is a guy that likes to ruffle feathers," Jackson told reporters in Buffalo. "He found any way he could to try and ruffle Buffalo’s feathers, knowing he had to come up to us. That’s just him doing what he does, at the same time, I mean, it’s annoying. It’s just dumb for him to do, and talk about people like that, and talk about the city of Buffalo like that.
"You’ve just got to take it with a grain of salt and say it’s just some dude that’s being an idiot about some stuff."
Whitner said he would shake Jackson’s hand Sunday and won’t let "personal feelings" affect what’s a really big game for both teams. He also wouldn’t apologize for anything he said.
"No, I’m not sorry," Whitner said. "I’m not sorry that that happened. It’s something that happened and I was called out by somebody that I knew and I responded and they responded and that’s where it went. If anything, I didn’t really say anything too disrespectful."
In his news conference Wednesday, Browns coach Mike Pettine — the Bills defensive coordinator last season — said he doesn’t think he’ll get "the warmest reception heading back to Ralph Wilson Stadium. It will probably be worse for Donte."
The Bills made Whitner the eighth overall pick of the 2006 draft. He had five interceptions in five seasons there and signed with the San Francisco 49ers in the summer of 2011 following the NFL lockout. He signed with the Browns last March and shares the team lead with 73 tackles.
The Twitter spat started when Whitner read quotes from Bills rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins about making the Browns pay for the team’s decision to pass on Watkins in last May’s NFL Draft. The Bills traded a 2015 first-round pick to the Browns to move up and select Watkins.
"All you wack Buffalo fans don’t have to feel this. Sammy will!" was one of Whitner’s tweets.
"The Sammy Watkins thing, I didn’t like that he called our defensive backs out, talking about there was going to be a fight when he played the Cleveland Browns," Whitner said. "There are (30) other teams in the National Football League that didn’t draft you, so don’t single out the Cleveland Browns defensive backs, so that’s why I said what I said. And the rest of our defensive backs feel the same.
"But Sammy, he’s having a pretty good year for being a rookie. He’s their No. 1 threat on offense, a deep threat and we’ll have to know where he is and be physical with him and make some plays when the ball is in the air.
"We’re just going to be focused on going up there and winning, understanding that they are a good football team and we’re going to take them seriously and we’re going to have to play better than their defense plays. They have a really good defense so we’re just excited. We’ve got an opportunity to go 8-4."