FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Roddy White regrets sending a tweet referring to Hurricane Katrina. The Atlanta Falcons star isn't backing down from anything else he posted on the popular website.
In a game that really didn't need any additional hype, White managed to stir things up with some incendiary comments he wrote on Twitter leading up to Monday night's crucial contest between the NFC-leading Falcons and the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
White's teammates claim it's nothing out of the ordinary, just some good-natured trash talk from perhaps their most outspoken player.
"There's nothing wrong with promoting the fight, just like boxers do," Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said Thursday. "A lot fans like that stuff. It's just like boxing. We're promoting the fight. Roddy is promoting the fight, getting it hyped. He's our hype man. He's our Don King."
The Saints don't see it that way, especially when White brought up the devastating hurricane that slammed into the Big Easy five years ago.
Defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove said White crossed the line when he started taking shots "at not just us, but our fans, our city. We're not going to talk about you Roddy, but inside, these guys are definitely upset."
"Thanks, Roddy, for the motivation," Hargrove added.
White initially went on Twitter this week to complain about comments made by former quarterback-turned-TV analyst Trent Dilfer, who said New Orleans was capable of winning twice in Atlanta, including the playoffs, to earn a return to the Super Bowl.
"No chance in hell the Aints come into the dome and win once trent dilfer," White wrote.
Naturally, that stirred the ire of the Saints and their supporters. Defensive end Will Smith tweeted back, questioning how White "has the audacity to call us AINT'S." Some replies, apparently from Saints fans, were downright crude.
White kept up the war of words on Wednesday.
"The grace of god gave them tht championship so tht city wouldn fall apart now and now they think they hot [obscenity]," he wrote.
In hindsight, White said, that post was probably over the line.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I really didn't say anything about the hurricane, but they took it that way. I wasn't trying to say anything mean about the city. I was just talking about the sports team. I am a football player. This is a sports topic. But everybody took it like, 'He hopes the city of New Orleans dies or something.' Come on, are you serious, man? It's not that serious."
Falcons coach Mike Smith said he spoke to White about his social networking but declined to reveal any details. White insisted that his coach didn't scold him for the posts.
"He was like, 'Roddy, just go out there and be yourself. Don't change anything that you do. You're a competitor," the player said.
White is the NFL's leading receiver with 106 catches for 1,284 yards and the catalyst for a star-studded offense that also includes Gonzalez, quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner.
The Falcons (12-2) have already clinched a playoff spot, but they can wrap up the NFC South and home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs with a win over the Saints (10-4). New Orleans is one win away from clinching its playoff spot and is still alive in the division race.
"I'm an ultra-competitive guy," White said. "Sometimes I express my feelings too much. But it's not like that's going to make me play any harder."
Still, there's little doubt that his Twitter posts have stirred up hard feelings in the Saints locker room. Running back Reggie Bush even re-tweeted Smith's response to White.
"He took the words right out of my mouth," Bush said of his teammate.
He believes the New Orleans secondary will be especially eager to get some shots on White.
"Of course. And he knows that," Bush said. "Everyone else in the building knows that. And everyone watching TV on Monday night knows that. You open your mouth, you're going to have to answer to somebody."
White doesn't sound too concerned.
"I'm going to be a target every time we play those guys," he said. "Nothing is going to change. I'm just going out there and play my game, be physical and try to win my side of the ball."
White initially protested on Twitter that he was only complaining about Dilfer's comments, but some of the angry responses he got just stirred him on even more.
"The first time we played them their coach gone say after we won the game thts a good win for yall like the saints are the colts," he wrote. That was followed by, "The saints win one championship and want to go crazy well yall ... aint winning this year we gone make sure tht doesn't happen."
Smith believes these are more than just stream-of-conciousness ramblings coming from White. The Saints player figures it's all designed to fire up the home crowd at the Georgia Dome, give the Falcons a little extra boost in a venue where they're 6-0 this season.
"He's just trying to speak to the fans, trying to rile those guys up," Smith said. "We kind of think it's a little funny and a little over the top sometimes. He's searching for a little attention. But, I mean, if he needs to do that to get the Atlanta fans interested in a game, then more power to him."
White said he's through tweeting for the week, though he vowed to return as soon as the game is over.
"No more twittering because of the people in New Orleans," he said. "I don't want them overreacting."