[ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 10-9-03 ]
Whitfield tries hypnosis to improve performance
By MATT WINKELJOHN
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
Flowery Branch — Bob Whitfield has had with his disappointing season with the Falcons. The veteran offensive lineman has decided to tackle the problem with hypnosis.
Wednesday, the Falcons’ left tackle underwent hypnosis with the goal of playing better, adding a chapter to his personal scrapbook of eccentricities.
Bob Whitfield has visited a Buckhead hypnotist in an attempt to improve his on-field performance.
The 12-year veteran was uncommonly candid after last Sunday’s 39-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, admitting that has been playing poorly. But even for Whitfield — an eclectic personality who’s known to ramble about anything from football to global politics — two sessions with a Buckhead hypnotist were unusual.
“Basically, Bob wanted to improve his on-field performance. Specifically, his focus — his mind would wander a little bit on the field,” said Dr. Wesley Anderson of Hypnosis Works. “We were using [trigger] words like ‘natural.’ It’s natural to hit people real hard. And a couple of other words like ‘set’ because he gets down in his set.”
Whitfield’s second session was broadcast live, during his, “What up, Bob?” show on Z-93, the Falcons’ flagship radio station.
“It was real,” Whitfield said Thursday. “It’s all a way to help you focus. It wasn’t like a funny little thing where you’re asleep.”
Some fans might have been inclined recently to suggest that Whitfield’s been slumbering. After committing two holding penalties against Minnesota (he has four in the past three games), one of which resulted in a safety, and getting run over on another play that resulted in a sack, Whitfield sat for a long time in the locker room, still in his uniform.
“I’m just not getting the job done,” he said after Sunday’s loss.
So on Wednesday, he visited Anderson’s office, where the hypnotherapist gathered background on Whitfield to get ideas about what techniques might best suit him. Then, Wednesday evening, Anderson hypnotized Whitfield on the air.
This didn’t have anything to do with waving a stopwatch in front of Whitfield. There are different methods of hypnosis. Anderson basically talked his client into a state of deepened relaxation.
“You ask them if they want to go under. They say yes,” Anderson said. “I say, ‘Close your eyes, and imagine a wave of relaxation from the top of your head all over body. Imagine your eyelids are so heavy it’s impossible to open them.’ When they’ve tested that, you go through a deepening technique. . . to get as deeply physically relaxed as you can get.”
The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Whitfield will get a test soon. On Monday night he goes up against the St. Louis Rams’ Grant Wistrom, who has had 24.5 sacks since 2001.
Whitfield had another request for Anderson, too. “I asked if he could do something about all these chocolate chip cookies,” the big guy said. “I keep eating them.”