Former Atlanta Falcons standout wide receiver Roddy White appeared on the "We Never Played the Game" podcast hosted by Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Zach Klein of WSB TV on Tuesday, and indulged in some what-I-would-have-done game-planning in the aftermath of Super Bowl LI. "It hurt me," White said about watching Atlanta's fourth-quarter meltdown, and from the sound of it, he wanted to hurt someone else.
By now we all know how that night played out. With four minutes left in the game, Julio Jones made an outrageous catch that put the Falcons on the New England 22, in position to eat some clock and kick a field goal for a two-score lead. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan called a pass play on second-and-11, Matt Ryan took a huge sack, and on the next play Atlanta was called for holding and forced out of field-goal range, giving the ball back to the Patriots with enough time to tie the game and send it to overtime. Shanahan's refusal to run the ball was so frustrating to White, he felt moved to violence.
"I'm glad I wasn't a part of that team because I probably literally would've fought him," said White, who retired in 2015 after 11 seasons with the Falcons and is the team's all-time leader in catches (808), yards (10,863), and touchdowns (63).
That's the quote that will make headlines, but White had a lot more to say in the wide-ranging conversation about the Super Bowl, including a much less visceral reaction to Shanahan's play call after Jones' catch:
"I told Julio I would've jumped offsides....
"At that point, it's second-and-16, you know they're going to run the ball, Or they'll throw quick game (quick pass off a three-step drop). It wouldn't be anything you can take a sack on."
The idea that White would have gone rogue and submarined a terrible play call during the waning moments of the Super Bowl to ensure the Lombardi Trophy made it to the ATL once and for all is way more intriguing, even if it is a Monday Morning Quarterback-style theoretical. Could you imagine if White had done that? Outkast would've reunited just to put out a record in his honor. (Special guest track, Paper Boi!)
Instead, what Atlanta is left with, nearly two weeks on, is an extreme football hangover. Here's White on Shanahan once again:
"You destroyed a dream for a city. It's bigger than me. The city of Atlanta needed that championship and you had it. Arthur Blank needed that championship and he deserved to win that game, with everything he's been through. It was finally our time to win and it just hurt me that we didn't get it done."
White's post-Super Bowl LI malaise may be even bigger than Blank's, however, because at least the Falcons' fate-tempting owner didn't get his $60,000 ass handed to him at a Las Vegas blackjack table, skip the private jet to Houston, instruct Julio Jones to give away his tickets, and then drop another $40,000 watching his beloved Dirty Birds choke away the Super Bowl. (Naturally, Charles Barkley makes a six-figure cameo.) Turns out, New England's stunning comeback really was all about that paper, boy oh boy.
There's a whole lot more Roddy White goodness in the podcast, including how he almost became a Patriot and, surprisingly, his thoughts on how the loss of Shanahan will hurt the Falcons' chances of blowing the big game in Minneapolis next year.
Go have a listen. It's the least we can all do for White and his offside-penalty fantasy of glory. He's had a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong couple of weeks.