Bob Whitfield was one of the most colorful offensive linemen in Atlanta Falcons franchise history.
This left tackle once punched quarterback Bobby Hebert on the chin and head-butted two opposing players in the same season.
Whitfield also once broke a defensive back’s jaw on an interception return during his college days with the Stanford Cardinal.
Whitfield expected to play for the Green Bay Packers when he entered the NFL ranks in 1992. Instead, he wound up with the Atlanta Falcons where he spent 12 of his 15 years on the pro gridiron.
Whitfield became a Pro Bowl tackle who helped the Falcons win a franchise-record 14 games and reach Super Bowl XXXIII in the 1998 NFL campaign.
All’s well that ends well for big Bob Whitfield.
Bob Lectress Whitfield III was born in Carson, CA on October 18, 1971.
Whitfield told Matt Winkeljohn in the 2012 book Tales from the Atlanta Falcons Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Falcons Stories Ever Told that he had an underdeveloped right eye at birth.
Whitfield’s inability to control his optic nerve made his eyes cross occasionally. He had to turn his head at times to see clearly.
Ironically, Whitfield eventually became a Pro Bowl offensive lineman—a position that required visual awareness of the incoming edge rush—in the National Football League.
Bob Whitfield spent his formative years in Los Angeles, CA. He attended Banning High School in his hometown.
Whitfield and future NFL veteran Mark Tucker were the pillars of the Banning Pilots’ offensive line during their high school days.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s I.J. Rosenberg, the Pilots’ offensive line was so huge, California high school football programs joked that it was the second-biggest in the country behind the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.
Bob Whitfield wanted to play for Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the collegiate ranks.
At the time that Whitfield expressed interest in suiting up for Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish coaching staff wondered why a kid from sunny Los Angeles, CA wanted to play in frigid South Bend, IN.
Whitfield told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2016 that he called Notre Dame and discovered that the Irish had already given away their last two scholarships.
When Holtz found out about Whitfield’s desire to play for Notre Dame, it was already too late. The latter had already committed to the Stanford Cardinal, per Rosenberg.
Bob Whitfield remained in-state, packed his bags, and traveled 350 miles north to Stanford University where he became a standout offensive lineman under head football coach Dennis Green.
College Days With The Stanford Cardinal
Bob Whitfield attended Stanford University from 1989 to 1991. He was new Stanford Cardinal head football coach Dennis Green’s first recruit.
Whitfield started immediately for Green as a true freshman offensive lineman in the 1989 NCAA season.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals were a below-average squad during Green’s first two years at the helm. They averaged just four wins from 1989 to 1990 and extended their bowl drought to four years.
On the flip side, Whitfield enjoyed getting a bit of revenge against the team he wanted to play for—the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Whitfield and his team upset top-ranked Notre Dame on the road 36-31 on October 6, 1990.
After that upset, Whitfield guaranteed that Stanford would beat the fourth-ranked Washington Huskies in the 1991 NCAA season opener.
As the visiting Huskies took the Stanford Stadium field on September 7, 1991, they heard loud Alice in Chains and Nirvana rock music being played over the public-address system.
Washington took it as a sign that Stanford felt they had already won the game. Instead, an angry Huskies team took their anger out on the Cardinal on the gridiron. Washington won 42-7.
— Pigskin Heroes (@pigskinheroes) October 18, 2015
Huskies junior safety Tommie Smith intercepted Cardinal quarterback Jason Palumbis during the lopsided affair.
Smith thought he was going to score a pick-six until Whitfield pushed him out of bounds. Smith felt fortunate Whitfield didn’t break his jaw—something Whitfield did to another player later in the 1991 NCAA campaign.
“He was determined to catch me and he did,” Smith told SI.com’s Dan Raley in the fall of 2020. “Later in the year, the same thing happened and Bob Whitfield broke some guy’s jaw on an interception. He caught him again and he hit him in the jaw and broke his jaw. I’m glad it wasn’t me.”
Despite the embarrassing season-opening loss to Washington, Stanford won eight of its next 11 games to finish 8-4 on the season.
Regrettably, the Cardinal lost to the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets in the 1991 Aloha Bowl, 18-17.
Nevertheless, Bob Whitfield earned Consensus All-American honors for his outstanding play on the offensive line following the 1991 NCAA season.
Whitfield decided to forego his senior year and declare for the 1992 NFL Draft. He told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 24 years later that he had already reaped the benefits of a Stanford education and needed to make a living.
Bob Whitfield eventually became one of the cornerstones of an up-and-down Atlanta Falcons team during his 12-year tenure with the squad.
Pro Football Career
The Atlanta Falcons made Bob Whitfield the eighth overall selection of the 1992 NFL Draft.
In the lead-up to that year’s draft festivities, Whitfield felt the Green Bay Packers would select him fifth overall, per Rosenberg.
However, the Packers had other things in mind. They prioritized their defense and plucked former Florida State Seminoles defensive back Terrell Buckley instead.
Whitfield wound up with the Falcons three picks later. He felt he got duped at the time.
“I got shafted,” Whitfield told Rosenberg more than two decades later. “They (the Packers) were the only team I visited. When I got the call from Atlanta, I said ‘where did they come from?'”
Although Whitfield never sent feelers to the Falcons before the draft, he was glad he wound up in Atlanta. Not only did he get to play with Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, but he also got to play in Super Bowl XXXIII seven years into his pro football career.
It didn’t take long for Bob Whitfield to make a good first impression on Atlanta. Running back Jamal Anderson christened him “Chi-Chi” because the former considered himself Scarface and Whitfield was his right-hand man, per Winkeljohn.
Anderson and defensive end Chuck Smith eventually became Bob Whitfield’s two closest friends on the Falcons.
Ironically, Smith and Whitfield didn’t warm up to Anderson at first. They felt he was too cocky and brash.
Anderson, who played behind starting running back Craig Heyward as a rookie, carried the ball in a short-yardage situation against the Los Angeles Raiders early in Whitfield’s NFL career.
Unfortunately, the Raider’s defense made Anderson fumble the ball in Atlanta’s 30-17 road loss.
Anderson was inconsolable after the game. Whitfield comforted him on the plane ride back to Atlanta. They became good friends from that point onward.
Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville made Whitfield his starting right tackle in 1993. June Jones, who replaced Glanville prior to the 1994 NFL season, switched Whitfield to left tackle where he protected quarterback Jeff George’s blind side in 1995.
The change helped turn Atlanta’s fortunes around. The Falcons won nine games—the most victories they had in four seasons—in the 1995 NFL campaign.
Next Tuesday the Sports Machine will be lit! Former #Falcons Pro Bowl LT Bob Whitfield is going to stop in and chop it up witcha boy! Drop in and roll with us! @chucksmithnfl you a fool for this one thanks big homie!
— Antwon Smith (@FatboiSlim_21) December 2, 2021
Atlanta made it to the 1995 NFC Wild Card Game where they lost to the team Whitfield thought would draft him two years earlier—the Green Bay Packers.
Behind Brett Favre’s 199 passing yards and three touchdowns, Green Bay prevailed convincingly, 37-20.
Alas, the Falcons regressed the following year. They won just three games and promptly dismissed head coach June Jones following the 1996 NFL season. Falcons management hired Dan Reeves as his replacement.
Whitfield didn’t get along with quarterback Jeff George’s replacement Bobby Hebert during the 1996 NFL campaign.
Hebert gave tackle Antone Davis an earful after he felt that Davis didn’t block well enough in a game. Several plays later, a pass rusher blew by Whitfield and then hit Hebert, who promptly got in his left tackle’s face.
Whitfield, not one to take Hebert’s tirade passively, punched the Falcons quarterback right in the chin. Davis followed suit with a haymaker to the back of Hebert’s head, per Winkeljohn.
The three men eventually buried the hatchet some time later. In fact, Whitfield loved taking the field with Hebert and another Falcon’s signal caller, Billy Joe Tolliver.
Whitfield had no love lost for Jeff George, Hebert’s predecessor at the starting quarterback spot. Many of George’s Falcons teammates shared the same sentiment as Whitfield.
As Whitfield evolved into a top-notch offensive lineman in the National Football League, he also pursued his other passion: music.
Early in Whitfield’s pro football career, he organized a demo for a high school friend and up-and-coming rapper Ras Kass.
Kass’ demo exceeded Whitfield’s expectations. The Falcons offensive lineman had a eureka moment right there and then—he could help establish Kass’ entertainment career and also launch a music empire.
Whitfield then reached out to his college friend and entrepreneur BJ Kerr. Their collaboration turned into Patchwerk Recording Studios in 1994—Whitfield’s third season in the NFL.
Whitfield and his team built a 3,000-sq. ft. recording studio in Atlanta, GA the following year. They moved to their current location—which is more than three times bigger than the previous one—in 1999.
Patchwerk Recording Studios went on to record more than 60 gold and platinum records from 1994 to 2000.
Whitfield married future Real Housewives of Atlanta reality television star and entrepreneur Shereé in 2002. They were together for nine years before they tied the knot.
The Falcons won a franchise-record 14 games in the 1998 NFL season. Their stellar performance earned them a ticket to Super Bowl XXXIII against John Elway’s Denver Broncos.
However, Elway was just too much for Whitfield and the Falcons. The Broncos quarterback’s 336 passing yards and one touchdown pass propelled Denver to back-to-back Super Bowl titles after a stirring 34-19 triumph at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, FL.
Whitfield and the Falcons could’ve been jinxed in their Super Bowl loss. His teammate Cornelius Bennett told him the Falcons had the same security guard who was employed by the Buffalo Bills when they lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.
Despite missing out on his first Super Bowl ring, Bob Whitfield earned his first and only Pro Bowl berth following the 1998 NFL season.
The Falcons averaged just six wins per season in Whitfield’s final five years in Atlanta from 1999 to 2003. They made it to the 2002 NFC Divisional Round where they lost to Donovan McNabb’s Philadelphia Eagles, 20-6.
The beginning of quarterback Michael Vick’s pro football career in Atlanta coincided with the end of Bob Whitfield’s.
During their time together with the Falcons from 2001 to 2003, Whitfield sang the electrifying Vick’s praises.
“That’s the coolest cat on the planet,” Whitfield told Winkeljohn in 2012. “He’s the only guy I know who will curse you out in a soft voice.”
When Arthur Blank took over as the Falcons team owner in 2003, the team released Dan Reeves along with Whitfield.
Whitfield split his final three pro football seasons from 2001 to 2003 between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Giants.
Whitfield spent two tumultuous seasons in New York. He head-butted players in two games, earning the nickname “Head-Butt Bob” in the process, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Consequently, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin benched Whitfield for his actions. It was a throwback to his college days at Stanford University when he broke a defensive back’s jaw in his junior season.
Whitfield didn’t regret his actions on the gridiron at all.
“I was always an intense player,” Whitfield told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2016. “It was just the way I played. No excuses.”
Bob Whitfield retired following the 2003 NFL season.
As of 2016, Whitfield’s 123 consecutive games started is third in Atlanta Falcons franchise history. His 178 career games in Falcons red and black rank fifth in team history.
When Winkeljohn asked Whitfield what he didn’t like about the modern NFL in 2012, he didn’t mince words.
“The softness of the game with all the quarterback protection, the helmet-to-helmet (penalties),” Whitfield said. “It was a gladiator sport when I came in.”
— Bob L. Whitfield III (@whatupbob) November 30, 2015
During Bob Whitfield’s tenure in Atlanta, he considered running back Erric Pegram his funniest teammate. Pegram, who usually wore a baseball cap under his helmet during practice, told the funniest stories in a garbled tone.
Whitfield considered Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Aundray Bruce the meanest player he competed against on the gridiron.
Bruce once talked smack incessantly at Whitfield in a preseason game and labeled him a bust. Bruce tried to intimidate Whitfield and hit him with a cheap shot to the back of his head.
Bob and Shereé Whitfield have three children together. They divorced in 2007. They were married for five years before they decided to go their separate ways.
Bob told People.com’s Dave Quinn 10 years later that he and Shereé were in Las Vegas several days after they divorced.
While Shereé was fast asleep in the passenger seat, an outrageous thought crossed Bob’s mind—he thought about unbuckling her seatbelt, hitting the brakes, and watching her crash through the windshield per People.com.
However, he maintained he never physically abused her while they were together.
Shereé begged to differ. She poured her heart out in the March 2017 episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta (via People.com) and said Bob was an abusive husband. She said he abused her while they were on vacation in Maui, HI.
She also described Whitfield as an immature and unfaithful husband. From her standpoint, he was a man with a terrifying alter ego—similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Unfortunately, the lingering memories of their tumultuous past still haunt Shereé even 10 years after their divorce.
Despite her accusations against Whitfield, she gave him credit for being a devoted father to their children, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Bob Whitfield admitted he wasn’t a perfect husband.
“It’s like ice-skating uphill with Shereé,” he told People.com in the spring of 2017. “We had a tough road and I f—-d it up a little bit. I’ve put a lot of wounds on her, so she’s calloused towards me.”
Whitfield, who has a total of five children, currently resides in the Duluth, GA area, per Rosenberg.
He became a member of the Stanford University Hall of Fame in the fall of 2011.
Whitfield returned to Stanford University to work on his bachelor’s degree. His return coincided with his son Kodi’s college days. The older Whitfield considered going to school with his son a cool experience.
According to Rosenberg, Bob Whitfield earned his diploma on Father’s Day 2013 with his kids there to witness the festivities.
— Bob L. Whitfield III (@whatupbob) March 18, 2016
Kodi followed in his father’s footsteps on the college gridiron. The younger Whitfield was a strong safety who suited up for Bob’s college teammate, Cardinal head football coach David Shaw, from 2012 to 2015.
Kodi Whitfield fell in love with football while following his dad’s 15-year NFL career. Bob reminded him that football life is a grind—he had to earn his stripes despite the last name on the back of his jersey, per StanfordDaily.com.
Bob Whitfield currently works as a high school football referee and beverage broker in Georgia. He also previously worked as a guest football analyst for the UK’s Sky Sports.
Whitfield’s music company, Patchwerk Recording Studios, has boosted its portfolio considerably since it began operations in 1994.
Since then, it has collaborated with many big-name artists including Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, Beyonce, Ludacris, Annie Lennox, Sting, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, and Nick Jonas, to name a few.