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Motivation on a Shirt


Last time we heard about a T-shirt in the locker room was last season when Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was rumored to have sent the entire Falcons secondary T-shirts explaining how he would dismantle them in their Week 7 meeting.

No one would say for sure if the T-shirts ever found their way into the locker room and it didn't matter. The Falcons won and the biggest verbal opponent to Ochocinco during that week was Roddy White. White turned that frustration by the Bengals spokesman at the time into a career day and put the Falcons on his back on the way to the victory.

This time, White's responsible for a T-shirt, but the only players he sent it to are his teammates.

On Monday running back Michael Turner was sporting a shirt that said "Unacceptable" on the front in the Falcons' familiar script. On the back was the score of last season's playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, a game that went any way but the Falcons'.

On Wednesday, White shared that he had the shirts made and his reasons behind it.

"It's just a little thing I did," White said. "Last year was where we didn't want to be. We won 13 games but we obviously wanted to make it to the Super Bowl. Anything less will be unacceptable."

White downplayed things a little, but the point is made. When the star of your team makes a statement, most will listen. By bringing the shirts into the locker room, the cat is out of the bag. The white elephant many have avoided is broken.

The Falcons didn't like the way things ended last year and there's a bit of a mission this season to correct a few wrongs. Don't be mistaken, they're not dwelling on it and it won't get in their way, but there's a quiet motivation.

"For me, that's kind of last year's deal," Matt Ryan said Wednesday. "I think everybody is, was at the time, disappointed with how it finished up. You have to use those things the right way. You have to use it as motivation and learn from it. I think guys have done that. Now, we need to put that behind us and focus on Sunday."

T-shirts and elegant phrases don't win championships. Great players with a commitment to excellence do.

A little extra motivation, however, never hurt anyone, and White took it upon himself to provide it.

If they agree with White that things in 2010 were unacceptable, they may find themselves with a little more than a t-shirt at the end of the season.

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