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Donte Whitner Era Ends in Typical Donte Fashion (A Farewell)
To the appeasement of most Buffalo Bills fans, Donte Whitner’s tenure with the organization is officially over. Whitner had not been expected back with the Bills, so this news was more of a confirmation than anything else. What’s note worthy was the way Whitner handled it.
As noted above, most Buffalo fans had mentally moved on from Donte Whitner before the end of the lockout. When Buffalo failed to re-sign linebacker Paul Posluszny, some thought that that the money not spent on Poz could potentially be used to bring back Whitner (so much so that yours truly made Whitner ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ in the Buddy Nixon Training Camp Fantasy Draft). That speculation ended when it became clear that Whitner was negotiating with several other teams and not the Bills (as an aside, the Bills wound up reportedly making the free agent safety his best offer at 5 mil per year. In the same way that Poz made out handsomely by taking a deal early, Donte wound up costing himself by not taking a deal).
Yesterday, Whitner was ready to settle for a lower offer, which appeared to come from the long rumored suitor Bengals. WGR’s Coach Sal Tweeted the following:
I want to thank @DonteWhitner for his professionalism and having the trust in me to handle this information and report first. #Proud
Coach Sal’s next tweet reported that Whitner had come to an agreement on a 2 year deal with the Bengals. Whitner tweeted ‘Who Dey,’ it wasn’t long before the national media picked up the story, and that was that.
Or so we thought. About two hours later it was discovered that despite agreeing to terms with Cincinnati, Whitner got a slightly better offer from San Francisco, and quickly signed a contract. The confusion quickly turned to anger, at least from Coach Sal, who demanded an apology. Whitner obliged, saying he never meant to deceive, and it wasn’t long before San Francisco CC’ed every executive in the league offering Taylor Mays for a song.
Now, at no point did this ordeal have any real impact on the Bills, but it is worth mentioning because his antics are a perfect metaphor for Donte’s time in Buffalo. Had Donte stayed off twitter, we would have merely thought ’49ers? I thought he was going to Cincinnati. Huh.’ and not given the situation much more thought. Instead, he managed to piss off a member of the media who had just called him ‘professional’ and a fan base other than the Bills by tweeting superfluously. But really, that has been Whitner’s MO his entire time here. Donte may have never lived up to his number eight overall draft billing, but he was a solid, dependable player nonetheless (interception catching ability non-withstanding). It was when he was at his home, poring over every invective filled tweet, and responding in a Bissingeresque rage.
Thus Whitner garnered a reputation as thin skinned among even those who couldn’t tell a retweet from a hashtag, which snowballed to where Donte and the fanbase felt alienated with each other. Which I think is a shame. Whitner may have not produced to the level that would warrant reaching twelve or so picks to high as Levy did in 2006, but he has always worked hard on the field and off, been a dependable safety, and one of the teams best tacklers.
So while we say goodbye to the most visible remnant from the Levy/Jauron era with mixed emotions, I offer this piece of advice to 49ers fans as Whitner as he heads west.