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saint5221 11-03-2003 07:20 PM

Whitehead's heroic effort netted hospital stay

Commentary: Whitehead's heroic effort netted hospital stay

05:46 PM CST on Monday, November 3, 2003

Jim Henderson / WWL-TV Sports Director

That was as heroic a performance by the Saints Sunday, given the circumstances, as I have ever witnessed. They won every battle - offense, defense, special teams, coaching.

But it was the defense particularly that shined.

From a unit that was already depleted by injury, they lost two more starters -- Dale Carter and Darrin Smith - in the first half. Other starters left with injuries, sucked it up, and returned to the battle.

Brad Johnson had been sacked only five times in seven games. Sunday the Saints sacked him four times. He had thrown only six interceptions in seven games. Sunday the Saints got two, one for a touchdown.

The Saints, who had lost a league-high 10 fumbles in eight games, lost none Sunday. The Bucs lost four. Tampa Bay was plus-11 in turnover differential before Sunday. The Saints were minus-8. Sunday the Bucs were minus-5, meaning the Saints were plus-5.

And nobody was more representative of that effort than defensive end Willie Whitehead. Playing in temperatures that reached the upper 80's, chasing a quarterback who threw 46 times, Whitehead had three sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection.

For that performance he will be nominated for - and very deserving of - NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

But few saw the toll that performance took on him afterward.

After most of the traveling party was already on the charter for the flight home last night, I was among the few along with Whitehead who were still waiting to go through security.

What he hadn't left on the playing field of Raymond James stadium, he left on the floor of the concourse of Tampa international airport. Medics and Saints trainers laid him down, swathed him with cold towels, and gave him two bags of IV fluid. While his teammates flew home, he went by ambulance to the hospital for an over-night stay.
You preach to your team to fight to the death.
Willie Whitehead wasn't close to death, but probably felt closer than he ever had.
Because of that sort of effort on his and his teammates' part, the Saints are closer to making the final seven games of this season meaningful once again.

It's the bye week. It could have been the ‘bye-bye’ week with a loss. The Saints simply refused to lose. And for that they should be applauded.

saint5221 11-04-2003 12:33 AM

Whitehead's heroic effort netted hospital stay
Just as an update it was also reported Benson sent his private jet down to pick up Willie after his release from the hospital.

saintfan 11-04-2003 08:17 AM

Whitehead's heroic effort netted hospital stay
This is a great example of why I get so angry at times when people like us sit back in our office chairs and chastise players as if we really know the deal. Those that call for the head of \"this\" player or \"that\" player because he had a bad day at the office. The prevailing attitue of this board has been to \"fire \'em all\" and that they\'ve \"given up\" or that \"they stink\" etc etc.

Our Saints players are workin\' as hard as any team in the league to right whatever is wrong. If discovering what was wrong with the Saints was as easy as some people who post regularly here seem to think it is then why aren\'t those people on some team\'s payroll? Because it\'s NOT so easy, that\'s why!

There are slackers in the NFL to be sure, but I see narry a one on the Saints. These guys may not be the second coming of the 70\'s Steelers or the 80\'s 49ers or even the 90\'s Cowboys but they\'re trying. I have no use for any of you who either can\'t or more likely won\'t see that. I doubt Willie has any use for you either!

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