I stumbled onto a short video clip today of former Falcons wideout Roddy White — released after 11 seasons there — discussing his future and saying he’d love “to be a Viking.” When I worked backwards from there, I found the perfect illustration of how a story starts to grow legs in 2016.
Near as I can tell, the first real item connecting White and the Vikings appeared about a month ago on Bleacher Report. The headline: “Predicting Landing Spots for Top Remaining Free Agents After the NFL Draft.” The author, who did nothing wrong, merely looked at a veteran WR and a team presumably that has a need for a veteran WR and concluded that White to the Vikings was “the perfect situation.”
A few days later, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up the ball and ran with it. Citing the Bleacher Report item in a piece about where White — who at the time had been a free agent for two months — might wind up, the AJC added another layer by noting that George Stewart — the Vikings’ longtime wide receivers coach — was White’s first WR coach with the Falcons in the mid-2000s. Again, nothing wrong with pointing that out. It’s a fact.
And that leads us to Thursday, when White was at his football camp in South Carolina. A reporter, who either picked up on that AJC item or connected the White-and-Stewart dots himself, asked White if he’d like to “team up with” Stewart again. Keep in mind that they last worked together a decade ago (Stewart’s final year in Atlanta was 2006) and that White caught 59 passes combined in his first two years with the Falcons, Stewart’s final two years there. Once again: not saying this was wrong to ask. Just a guy doing his job.
Still, what is White — a guy who really wants a job and really wants to play for a contender — supposed to say to that question? Well, exactly the thing he does say:
“I mean, I love Stew and everything, and I would love to, you know, be a Viking if that so happens.”
And then the short headline becomes “I’d love to be a Viking.” And here we are.
I’m not saying White will never play for the Vikings. He certainly seems open to it. Maybe there is something to be said for his leadership. Maybe Rick Spielman will need to scratch an itch for a wideout who turns 35 in the middle of next season and whose production (43 catches, 506, one TD) sharply declined with the Falcons last year. Maybe he has more left in the tank than last year suggests. He does have 808 catches for 10,863 yards and four Pro Bowl berths to his credit.
What I am saying is that this is the perfectly started modern rumor: two bits of speculation and a sound bite from a football camp, none of it wrong, each adding a layer.
And at the end of the day, we’re no closer to Roddy White actually playing for the Vikings than we were a month ago.