NEIL CORNRICH & NC SPORTS: MANAGING THE CAREERS OF PROFESSIONALS IN THE SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008



September 16, 2008

By Anthony Bialy

The best thing about the Buffalo Bills' defense playing generally well is that it's given safety Donte Whitner the chance to play specifically well, as he's excelling this season at his style of vengeful football. Everyone else doing their jobs and holding their ground allows him to be on the prowl, creating nightmares on Sunday afternoons with his instinctual attacks against two offenses so far. The competence of this 2008 edition gives Whitner the freedom to forge a different path thanks to both his and the group’s respective maturity.

He’s managed six tackles in each of Buffalo’s games, but it’s the way he's been ending plays when he wants to and not when the ball carrier does that makes Whitner such a prize. More notably, he’s getting a chance to roam the field like a focused madman, allowing him to truly come into his own. That’s thanks to not only his own development but also because of the fact he has better talent playing alongside him than was deployed as recently as his rookie season. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is finally using Whitner as a wild card with his other face cards in place.

Whitner's presence is clearly helping Youboty and the others, as he is taking on his unique role as a moderately experienced yet still youthful leader with remarkable adeptness. His presence allows the others to play with confidence, as they know he’ll make his way to the right place on the field. A Consumer affairs major at Ohio State, Whitner is ensuring the ticket-buying public remains very happy with his sense for the direction of plays and taste for annihilation. He’s the exception in the Bills’ carefully crafted scheme, namely in that he is being given some latitude partly thanks to his safety title but also because he’s able to diagnose the offense’s actions so well.

He’s either the head zombie or vampire depending on one’s geek film preference, but the important factor is that Whitner is leading his henchmen to glory in part because the talent around him is rising. The question of who benefits from whom is ultimately irrelevant; the important point is that everyone is benefiting.

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