SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner talks slow and low like he’s your grandfather. But on the football field he’s a completely different person. Whitner explained this phenomenon to me today in the 49ers locker room.
GC: Do you have two different personalities?
WHITNER: You have to. If you take your aggressive personality home to your wife and your kids there’s going to be some trouble in the household. Your kids are going to pick up on your aggressive nature. Your wife or your spouse is going to be intimidated of you and they’re not really going to like the person that you are. Whenever you step on the football field in the National Football League you have to almost transform, and you have to play with a sense of attitude and a sense of purpose. So, I would say you do have to have two personalities. Same thing goes with Brian Dawkins. On the field he calls himself ‘Wolverine.’ At home he’s a Christian man, very mild mannered, low tone. You have to be able to transform into two different people, on and off the field.
GC: When did you realize you needed two personalities to play this game?
WHITNER: High school. You go through the school day and you have a good day, but when you step on the football field you have somebody trying to attack you and you have to attack them. I’ve never seen a guy out there on the football field being mild mannered and really play with an aggressive style, with an attitude.
GC: What’s your trigger to change personalities?
WHITNER: The smell of the grass. The smell of the popcorn in the stadium.
(Bonus question for Blake Costanzo):
GC: Do defensive players around the league have two different personalities?
COSTANZO: Oh yeah, for sure, especially some dudes on our defense. Like Dashon (Goldson) – you see him in the locker room dancing, smiling, and then when he gets on the field he’s a stone cold killer. Donte as well. You see Donte – he’s a little dude but he just brings it when he’s on that field on Sunday. So, I think a lot of guys can turn it on and off, but really they’re just ballers.