Roddy White and Julio Jones are the two best receivers to ever play for the Falcons.
When you mention Roddy White to a Falcons fan, their face usually lights up. They remember him for being loyal to fault, infamously displaying “Free Mike Vick” on his shirt under his jersey after catching a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints on the same day that Michael Vick was sentenced for dogfighting charges. They remember him for being confident and proud in all situations, iconically jawing at Richard Sherman after a 47-yard touchdown catch in the NFC Divisional playoffs. They remember him for being a restless kid that just wanted to play football for his city, and having his restless soul tamed by the great Joe Horn. They remember him growing into a dominant receiver, making four Pro-Bowls and one appearance on the AP All-Pro First Team (2007). They remember every highlight that shook the crowd in the Georgia Dome on to their feet, and they remember his contagious grin that seemed to always be on display.
But Julio Jones brings a different collection of thoughts to mind. Jones is a relentless worker, using his big frame to maximum effect on screens and runs to help his team with more than just his receiving. He is also a highlight machine, abusing corner backs every Sunday and making elite defenses look like children. But he is not a talker. When Jones breaks someone’s ankles, trucks a defender, or just completely humiliates a player on the opposing team, he is quiet. Where White would be yelling in the defender’s face and reminding the entire team he just beat them, Jones quietly returns to the offensive huddle or the sideline.
This difference has been pointed out by many, especially when the two played alongside one another. Some have even gone as far as to say that Jones is a better player than White, not because of athletic talent but because of White’s trash talk and arrogance.
However, this difference is just a difference. Confidence is needed for success in professional sports and sometimes that confidence can manifest itself as something like White’s preference to let defenders know when they have been beaten. When you’ve come as far as White did and you work all week to punish the opposition, of course the natural inclination is to get in their face and express your enthusiasm for your accomplishment.
Now, this doesn’t mean Jones doesn’t have confidence, but instead that he displays it differently. Whether it be dancing in the endzone after a touchdown or whatever, Jones still has ice in his veins. He just doesn’t necessarily feed off of the destruction of the opposition like White did.
Some fans prefer Jones for this reason, as trash talk can come across poorly in certain situations. But White and Jones are two sides of the same coin: kids that want to bring success to Atlanta. Unfortunately, White’s playing days are over and he can no longer help the Falcons on the football field, leaving Jones the burden and opportunity to bring the Lombardi trophy home.
Let’s hope Jones is successful, and let’s remember Roddy White for all his great moments as a Falcon.