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Donte Whitner: Bills 'chasing something that's not there'

By Tim Graham

SAN FRANCISCO -- Donte Whitner, always the locker-room philosopher, had enough thoughts about Sunday's game to fill up Buffalo News columnist Bucky Gleason's notebook in the San Francisco 49ers' locker room.

San Francisco throttled Buffalo, 45-3, Sunday in Candlestick Park. It was Whitner's first game against the team that drafted him in the first round six years ago.

Whitner experienced a lot of losing before switching to the Niners as a free agent last year. He knows what it felt like to walk off the field lumped up in a Bills uniform.

"I feel for the players over there because I don't think it's the players," Whitner told Gleason. "I think that it's management. They're chasing something that's not there. Guys like George Wilson and Jairus Byrd, guys that give you 100 percent on every play, they don't get rewarded for things they do on the football field.

"They're constantly bringing new guys in, and that's who they give all the money to. It starts with management. I don't think it has anything to do with the players. The players are going to work hard and do everything that the coaches put them in positions to do.

"I feel for those guys. Hopefully, it will get better. Hopefully, something changes."

Whitner wouldn't say the Bills quit in the second half Sunday but suggested the Bills are a demoralized group with more heartache on the way.

"I was there for five years," Whitner said. "I know what goes on in that locker room. Definitely, the players want to win. They have good coaches over there, too. I'm glad I'm over here."

Whitner was bothered by Bills coach Chan Gailey's references to players not being mentally tough after last week's 52-28 loss to the New England Patriots.

"I feel for those guys," Whitner said. "There needs to be a change somewhere along the line. The players are going to out there, and it's a hard-working bunch. ... I know they want to get it done and have the passion to get it done.

"Only for so long can you hear, 'We have to build the killer instinct' or 'We're not mentally tough.' That should never leave the meeting room. You're questioning your own team's mental toughness in the media? That's not right."

Whitner finished with three tackles -- the Bills' pass offense didn't test him much -- and had saw jawing sessions with some of his former teammates, most notably running back C.J. Spiller.

"I'm not going to say they rolled over," Whitner said. "I can say we played like a team on a mission, and we beat a team that was in our way.

"I don't know if they quit or not. I really don't care if they quit. All I know is that we were on our 'A' game."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | [email protected]


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | [email protected]


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | [email protected]

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