In the second quarter of the San Francisco 49ers‘ 34-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, Donte Whitner and Steven Jackson became well acquainted with one another on a pass play. It was 2nd-and-goal from the 49ers’ seven yard line and Matt Ryan would throw a dump off pass into the flat. Just as Jackson was about to pull in and secure a catch, Donte Whitner would deliver a clean, shoulder to chest hit that would separate Jackson from the football for an incompletion.
Yet, instead of it being 3rd-and-goal, the referees–as is much too common in today’s NFL–threw a flag because as far as they and the league office are concerned, any hard hit delivered by a defensive player now in days must be a dirty hit. On that play, Whitner was flagged for a personal foul, unnecessary roughness penalty which was declined.
With this sequence, it has become abundantly clear that the league and the referees have targeted and marked one Donte Whitner as a player whom they have signaled out as being a trouble maker on the defensive side of the ball, lumping him in with the likes of Brandon Meriweather and Ndamukong Suh.
I know that some of you reading are going to say that Whitner has brought such attention onto himself by stating that he wants to be nicknamed ‘Hitner.’ To that I say that it is still unfair of you to judge and presume that Whitner is a dirty player or that the hit on Steven Jackson was dirty because it was clear that it was far from being an illegal hit according to the way the league wants players to hit nowadays. Also, in a league nicknamed the “No Fun League”, not allowing Whitner to have some fun with his name means the league lacks a sense of humor and want all players to be nameless faces with no personality, which is no fun at all.
Still question as to whether or not Whitner is targeted unfairly by the league and the referees, look at the touchdown pass caught by Tony Gonzalez late in the fourth quarter as Whitner was flagged for a defensive holding. On replay, it is very clear not only does Whitner not grab Gonzalez, it is Gonzalez whom should have been flagged for an offensive pass interference call as he yanks and pulls down Whitner from his facemask. Clearly, Whitner is not a player who will get a fair shake from the referees.