Don’t expect the Atlanta Falcons’ Roddy White to join any lawsuits against the NFL after he retires regarding concussions.
The outspoken wide receiver, one of the NFL’s best, told his more than 90,000 followers on Twitter on Wednesday that he understands the health risks of his violent profession.
Asked by one follower if he would ever trade his job for do anything else, he responded, “No, I love playing football. If I cant walk when I’m 50, it was well worth it.”
And with good reason. In 2009, White signed a six-year contract worth $50 million. Call it a Faustian bargain or not — and these days the NFL does not — but given the choice of having the glamorous life of an NFL player who could earn $50 million but not be able to walk by the age of 50, many people would likely side with White.
White’s tweets come at a time when former players have sued the league, alleging that the NFL deliberately omitted or concealed information that linked concussions and later neurological issues. High-profile suicides of former players Dave Duerson and Junior Seau have also raised questions on the subject.
But the league seems to dispute that its players have shorter lives. Earlier this week, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com obtained a letter sent by the league to 3,200 players who played before 1993, saying that players who played at least five years between 1959 and 1988 lived longer than the general population.
That seems to contrast with some previous studies and conventional wisdom. A 2006 study by the Scripps Howard News Service of 3,850 former players indicated that the heaviest players were more than twice as likely to die before they turned 50 than their teammates.
In White’s case — and he is in top cardiovascular shape at 6-foot, 211 pounds — he indicated an understanding of the risks of playing the violent game of football.
“I don’t have nothing against old players they made football what it is today and I love those guys and I don’t have a problem with (cont…” he said in one tweet on Wednesday and then continued, “…cont) them suing the nfl I don’t have to worry about it the nfl has enough money to pay them.”
In fact, some of those “old players” are on his coaching staff, like defensive line coach Ray Hamilton, who played for New England from 1973 to 1981.
While White showed an understanding of personal responsibility, a firm grip on economics might elude him.
“Yes, older players didn’t make what we made,” he tweeted on Wednesday, “but I remember when gas was 89 cents, so the cost of living was different.”
Those players might have had to pay four times less for gasoline, but players of 30 years ago earned tens thousands of dollars per year, not tens of millions, as is the case with today’s highest-paid players.
White has grown famous — or infamous — for his outbursts on Twitter over the last few years, whether it was infuriating the fans of the Falcons’ archrival, the New Orleans Saints, or just aggravating people in the city in which he plays in recent weeks by announcing he would cheer for the Boston Celtics, his favorite team since his childhood, over the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
He is both a colorful character off the field and a productive one on it. White, the Falcons’ all-time leader in receiving yards, earned three straight Pro-Bowl berths from 2008 to 2010, as he led the NFC in receiving yards in 2010.
Before the Falcons played the Saints in late December 2010, White ended up having to apologize for tweeting that referenced Hurricane Katrina and the Saints’ 2009-10 Super Bowl victory: “The grace of god gave them tht championship so tht city wouldn fall apart now and now they think they hot [expletive] in my chad voice child please.”