"Less aggressive?" said George Atkins, giggling at the absurdity of such a notion. "My man, my game is aggression, intimidation, and if I ever became less aggressive what all you will be sayin' in your columns is: 'George Atkinson works down at the car wash, the x-rated car wash.'"
His elbows and his mouth still are a very important part of the Oakland defense, tools the intimidator uses to break the concentration of the wide receiver and which have been issue din large quantitly to other Raider raiders, among them Phil Villapiano, Skip Thomas and Jack Tatum.
"At least 50 per cent of the battle is breakin' the receiver's concentration," said Atkinson, meeting that if a catcher thinks an elbow will smack him upside the head the instant a football hits his hands it is almost as effective as if it actually does.
Odd that Sammie White had been emphasizing that word, concentration, an hour or so earlier and a few miles up the San Diego Freeway today. He is the lamb of a wide receiver the Vikings will be sending toward this band of headhunters Sunday as they try to avoid losing the Super Bowl for the fourth time.
"Look it into your hands, that's what Francis is always tellin' me," said White, at 22 as clever and swift and sure-handed as any receiver in footballM who quarterback Tarkenton predicted would be rookie of the year before he caught a regular-season pass.
Of Atkinson and the other Raiders defenders, White says, "I never feel intimidated. His job is to try and make me hesitate out there he's just carrying out an assignment."
White is soft-spoken and eager, if not polished in an interview, a product of the rich athletic territory of Monroe, La., who hit the NFL like a comet this season and has Redskin faithful still muttering about a touchdown catch in the first round of he playoffs.
That White amassed numbers such as 51 catches, 10 touchdowns and 906 yards or a team that does not emphasiz long passess might seem startling on first inspection, but is not to anyone with a hint of his background.
At a tender age, White was playing serious football in company with such future pros as Charlie Smith of the Philadelphia Eagles, Don Zimmerman of the Eagles and Packers, James Harris of the Los Angeles Rams, and Matthew Reed of Toronto of the Canadian Football League.
"That was outside the rec." he said. "the place everybody who cared about sports around Monroe would come every time we got the chance. And we seem to care about sports more than most towns in the country. I believe. Yeah, Larry Wright (of the Bullets) would come around all the time, too, only he stayed inside mostly."
White's Richwood High School football team was just this side of unbelievable, and the numbers he laid before pro scouts later at Grambling make one wonder how he could have lasted until late in the second round of the draft.
"My junior year in high school we averaged 64 points a game," he said."Yes, that was the football team. My senior year we averaged 55 points. One game the other team had us tied at the quarter, 20-20. We won the game, 108-20. Funny thing about that one - I scored just two touchdowns."
He scored 45 touchdowns and had a career offensive output of 3,287 yards at Grambling. There were times he tired to be too fast for his welfare during his early days with the Vikings.
"But Francis would tell me, 'Take is easy, relax' While all the others were out running plays, we'd see I had the proper help. He said he was going to make me a star, and he held his word."
Also, Tarkenton talked White into buying a three-piece suit to accept the awards that already have started to come his way, including a car. Probably, White said, he will use Tarkenton's lawyer.
While allows that he considers Tarkenton something of a father fugure, which might irritate the soon-to-be-37-year-old thrower.
"On other teams I wouldn't have had this type of success." White said, "although I always felt if I had a good quarterback I could do a pretty good job."
White's most embassarring moment came against the Lions in Minnesota. He held the ball high over his head en route to a seemingly certain touchdown, only to be hit unexpectedly and fumble it into the end zone for a Lion touchdown.
The best of White's catches clearly came against the Redskins. In midair, he first ruined an interception by knocking the ball from Ken Houston. As he was hitting the ground. White managed to top the spinning ball, control it with his right hand and roll over into the end zone for a touchdown.
His friend, Willie Brown, long-ago alumnus of Grambling, will be one of teh Raiders waiting for White on Sunday. And strongly Atkinson says: "I love it when wide receivers come in my area."
For White, all of the attention and success, individual and team, make each day another bright new adventure.
"The guys like Smith and the rest back home all very close," White said, "and when I get back they'll all be wantin' to hear about all this Then they'll say: "Hey, let's go down to the rec'."