QB Whitelaw ’14 quits football team

Football quarterback John Whitelaw ’14, center, announced in a Tuesday email to his teammates that he is quitting the team — the latest in a series of offseason setbacks for the Bulldogs.
Football quarterback John Whitelaw ’14, center, announced in a Tuesday email to his teammates that he is quitting the team — the latest in a series of offseason setbacks for the Bulldogs. Photo by YDN.

When the football team leaves campus Thursday evening for its season opener at Georgetown, quarterback John Whitelaw ’14 will not be on board.

Whitelaw announced his departure from the football team in an email to his teammates Tuesday, the News has learned. His decision comes in the wake of head coach Tony Reno’s announcement that Eric Williams ’16 would start at quarterback against Georgetown on Saturday. After spring practice last year, Whitelaw had widely been expected to be named starter in the fall.

The loss of the veteran Whitelaw is the latest in a string of offseason obstacles for the Bulldogs. Following controversies over the resignation of former head coach Tom Williams and the Rhodes Scholarship candidacy of Patrick Witt ’12, the team experienced another setback in August when linebacker Will McHale ’13 had his captaincy suspended following a fight at Toad’s Place in May.

Prior to his leaving the team, Whitelaw was featured in head coach Tony Reno’s game plan for Saturday and both Whitelaw and Williams were listed as possible starters on the media depth chart.

“Eric will start, I made a decision over the weekend,” Reno said at a lunch with members of the media yesterday, prior to Whitelaw’s announcement. “[But] John [Whitelaw] will play.”

Reno said that Whitelaw left the team “to pursue other interests.” He added, however, that Whitelaw’s departure would not affect his young quarterback.

“I don’t think there’s any more pressure at all [on Williams],” Reno said. “He’s got 10 guys [with him].”

Although he has never taken a collegiate snap, Williams has already gained the confidence of his teammates.

“I’ve just been really impressed by Eric’s raw talent,” running back Mordecai Cargill ’13 said. “He is a freshman so he makes mistakes here and there, like dropping the ball sometimes or causing us to do extra running at the end of practice. But there are also times he makes throws that wow you.”

Williams is also no stranger to Yale — his brothers Sean Williams ’11 and Scott Williams ’13 have both played for the Blue and White.

Derek Russell ’13 and Logan Scott ’16 will be the new primary back-ups, Reno said.

Russell is listed as a wide receiver on the roster and has spent the past three years on the junior varsity team. He threw for 2,100 yards and 21 touchdowns as quarterback for Newton South High School in 2008. He also ran for 500 yards and eight more scores.

Scott was a three-sport athlete for Chaminade College Preparatory School in California and was recruited to play a sport at Boise State, Nevada and San Diego State, among other schools.

Whitelaw was unavailable for comment, and several of his former teammates declined to comment, with one of them doing so because Whitelaw’s departure was “a sore subject.”

Whitelaw saw action in five games last year, completing one of four passes for eight yards and running for fourteen yards on five carries. He spent his freshman campaign on the JV squad, but he received the spring practice quarterback award in 2012.


  • The Anti-Yale

    Good for you. Wise decision. It takes courage to walk away from our culture’s glory machine—especially the Ivy League version.

    If you read George Will’s recent column on the (velocity) x (weight) of players in modern football as they “hit” other players, the probability of those statistics producing traumatic brain injury is increasingly certain —a fact which he says “dooms” the sport of football. And that opinion comes from a sports afficionado.

    Your cerebral cortex will be grateful forty years from now, for this ‘road not taken.’

    Best wishes,


    • basho

      That’s not why he quit though

    • sonofmory

      yeah, good for you John. Way to learn about perserverance and loyalty. You don’t make the starting roster for the first game so you quit. nevermind working harder to earn the top spot. good for you. your cerebral cortex might be grateful in 40 years but your pride and character won’t.

      • NewCampus

        It’s a ball game. People toss a ball around. It’s meaningless. Grow up.

        • Yalie

          Some people ascribe meaning to it. You do not, obviously. Their view is just as valid.

        • jamesdakrn

          And tossing that ball around takes more skill and more brains than you’d think. Dont be a dick.

        • sonofmory

          i think you are missing the point.

      • xfxjuice

        I think he’ll be just fine.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Does absolutely no one see the method to my madness?

    It’s a tribute to my thickheadedness that I don’t get discouraged.

  • eli1

    wow…this is something I would expect from a middle school girl, not a Yale athlete. Sounds like the type of selfishness I wouldn’t want on my team anyway. You know what they say: “When the going gets tough…just quit.”

    • troyandabedinthemorning

      Wow. I know you wrote “middle school girl” just for the quip, but it’s not cute, it’s just sophomoric. Save that line for when it’s a woman seemingly quitting because she didn’t get her way.

  • Jacob

    The only “wow…” moment here is about the fact that some of you little girls have decided to call this guy names like “selfish,” and “quitter.” Sometimes when the going gets tough its because you’ve left the paved roads and are trying to drive your Lexus on an ATV trail. And sometimes when a person has a change of heart it really is because they’re interested elsewhere, and not because they’re incapable where they are.

    The only reason any of you people are bothered by his departure is because you are either (A.) worried that you yourself might lose interest in football, or (B.) worried that Whitelaw’s departure will hurt the team. I can promise you that such lack of faith hurts more. So stop ripping on Whitelaw and show a little faith that Williams will get us through the year, for the sake of the football team, and for the sake of Yale.

    • JackJ

      Yes but when your “change of heart” occurs only hours after an announcement that you’re not the starting QB it becomes a bit suspect. Additionally, what are his former teammates going to think when someone from Georgetown or Harvard slams Williams to the turf and he leaves the game and Whitelaw isn’t there to run on to the field and “save the day?” Whitelaw seems not to have learned the lesson football teaches about teamwork but perhaps his teammates have.

    • sonofmory

      i have complete faith in williams and am certain he will do great things for yale football. but as a former yale athlete, whitelaw’s announcement right after being named 2nd on the depth chart is disappointing to what yale athletics stand for. i am not worried about your option A or your option B – just hoping that yale football can turn things around.

      oh that, and i think PK’s comments wreak of lack of understanding about what sports can do for character.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Bravo Whitelaw!

    Bravo Bissonette!

    Bravo Assange!

    Bravo Ellsberg !

    Quit and speak out!

    Phoney loyalty to macho institutions is what got the world into the mess it’s in.

    Speak out, no matter the cost !


    • penny_lane

      Can we stop with the glorifying Assange thing? He did rape at least two women.

      • The Anti-Yale

        Allegation. No sworn testimony under cross examination.
        I refuse to listen to hysteria and gossip simply because it is politically correct.


        • River_Tam

          allegations are not merely hysteria and gossip (and neither are they facts).

    • River_Tam

      Whitelaw quit his team because he didn’t get the starting job, not because he was speaking out against football as an institution.

      • The Anti-Yale

        Of COURSE. I’m raising the ante.

        Don’t you play poker?


        • River_Tam

          I fail to see how the metaphor of “raising the ante” applies to your treating an athlete throwing a tantrum as a whistleblower.

  • Feelshow22

    Hey eli1 and jackj hope you guys feel good about yourselves. A big feel goes out to you guys trying to call him out. Glad your day consists of nothing better to do than post comments about stuff that you have no idea about. You guys are real winners…

    • eli1

      what is there to know?? I’m sure whitelaw is the better quarterback and reno benched him because he wants to go ahead and rebuild the team around his recruits, but I dont think thats an excuse to abandon the other 100 guys that could be counting on him this season. Am I a “real winner” because I happen to actually be one of only a handful of people who actually care about Yale football? Am I not allowed to discuss the team I am a fan of? I understand you are probably one of whitelaw’s boys but it doesn’t take an insider to call things how they are.

    • JackJ

      Oh come on get real. The guy quits in a snit and you and PK want to make it into some altruistic posturing on “doing the right thing.” Well in this case the “right thing” was to hang in there and support your team. Actually some of us are real winners. Our teammates liked us, we got the job done, everyone was happy. That’s pretty much what being a winner feels like. If you don’t want to be criticized then don’t make grandstand gestures like quitting just after you don’t win a starting job. Why go out in the first place and take a spot from someone else who would happily play second string QB? Now the team has to rely on someone who moves from WR to QB on the eve of the opening game. It’s not only bad timing it shows a lack of respect for his teammates and a propensity to quit when things happen he doesn’t like. This move will follow Mr. Whitelaw for quite some time. There is a group of Harvard athletes who will have to contend with having a cheating scandal in their corridor file and Mr. Whitelaw will have to live with being labeled a “quitter.” You can see the future when he is interviewed and brags on his Yale degree and then fatefully is asked “Are you by any chance the Whitelaw who quit on his teammates?” Wow that’s going to be a great recommendation for a job.

  • jamesdakrn

    Can PK seriously shut up?

    And yeah he quit the team, but who cares?

    Everyone knows that a backup QB barely plays, and if you’re an upperclassman that lost the job to a freshman, it just isnt fun. I remember hating being on the sidelines after I’ve been starting the whole year before in HS.

    • Branford73

      > “Everyone knows that a backup QB
      > barely plays, and if you’re an
      > upperclassman that lost the job to a
      > freshman, it just isn’t fun.”

      Not necessarily true. It may be ancient history to you but back in 1972, Yale was in contention for the league title and all season there was competition for the starting QB job between a senior and a sophomore. The sophomore started a few games and did well. But come Harvard time the senior started and played well, beating Harvard and knocking them out of a tie for the league title with Dartmouth. I think Yale and Harvard finished in a tie for second that year. It didn’t hurt that Dick Jauron rushed for 182 yards that game, but Purrington’s passes were credited for keeping the toilets, er, *Johns* from stacking the defensive line.

      Point is that starting one game does not guarantee starting the next one or all of them. There is a likelihood that there will be a lopsided score in either direction which would allow a second teamer to come in and show how he plays in game situations.

      If the coach made promises to Whitelaw that he would start the first game, the coach was dumb to do so. A promise that it was his job to lose isn’t really a promise he would start, though it would be disappointing not to get the nod. But those discussions haven’t been made public and credit goes to Whitelaw for keeping mum about it. His teammates probably know more about it and they can judge him for his decision. I won’t without more information.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Can PK seriously shut up?”

    Over my dead body.

  • yalengineer

    It must be because the corporate nature of the search for the next President of Yale.

  • yalengineer

    YDN, why on earth is there a photo of your kicker when the article is clearly about the Quarterback? Have you always left after the tailgate?

    • River_Tam

      Whitelaw is the placeholder in that shot. Silly, but he’s there.

  • The Anti-Yale

    So the younger quarterback replaces the older quarterback and Harold Bloom’s thesis that all literature is oedipal works itself out in sports too.

  • elibro

    Guys quit all the time on Ivy teams–hey if you’re not playing there are plenty of ways to put your time to better use…but rarely do you see the no.2 QB take a hike–especially the middle of game week for the first game. This guy had more facetime with the coaches than anyone over the past off-season and then he quits? looks to me like he felt used and lied to by the new coach. Whitelaw made a bad choice no doubt, he should have stuck it out for the season–but don’t leave Reno out of this, a good coach knows how to manage his team–so far this guy has lost his captain and no. 2 QB and they haven’t even played a game!

    • goyale

      He not only lost his captain and quarterback but about 10% of the team has quit; why do you suppose that is? Are they all self centered quitters?

      • RexMottram08

        Shh… according to the Yale administration, Tom Williams was too black to fail… don’t let anyone know that ol’ Tommy left us with a short-stick roster of mediocrities.

    • eli1

      Ummmm Reno was quoted directly as saying that, while Williams would start, Whitelaw would indeed be part of the game plan and would see some time this week. So much for never taking a hike.

  • lex_talionis

    By my read, the coach quit John. How many more promises need to be broken before you realize that it’s time to move on. Although it’s easy for individuals to hide behind screen names and write horrible things about someone they’ve never met, I’m sure this decision was quite the contrary for John. To Tony Reno, this is his job. Sometimes when your the boss you have to make hard decisions and it sucks because you know that someone is going to get hurt. He’s doing what he thinks is best for him and the team. John’s problem was not his abilities or work ethic. It wasn’t his fault that the coach that he had bet his career on got caught fabricating his resume. Sometimes you can do everything right and it’s still not enough. To the armchair quarterbacks out there, give this kid a break. None of us have walked in his spikes, so layoff. Charles Condro – shame on your for giving your article such an inflammatory header. Glass houses my friend.

    • eli1

      I’m not sure, where I come from a “team first” attitude was always emphasized. No matter how much he hates Reno its about letting down the other 100 guys. No one really cares what Reno thinks.

    • ohno

      Uh, what’s inflammatory about the article title? He did quit, no matter how you look at it.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The fragile ego of the modern macho man trembles at the thought of “quitting.” Men don’t quit. Especially team players who are men.

    What bunch of testosterone-laced propaganda.

    DeGaulle quit—-TWICE.

    Edward VIII quit.

    Kofi Anan just quit two weeks ago.

    • jamesdakrn

      Clearly you never quit. We all wish you would though.

    • JackJ

      Your examples astound me. Are you saying Whitelaw would have been as disastrous a leader as the examples you chose? Were I Whitelaw I don’t think I’d hire you as my publicist.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I’m playing Lear’s fool in this thread.

    Very much so.

    Yale’s fool.

    I see it clearly now.

    • elibro

      No yr just a plain ordinary Fool

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Who is it that can tell me who I am?”
    King Lear, 1.4.230

  • goyale

    “too black to fail” What the heck? Dude get off the PC whiplash train. Compare Reno’s coaching experience with William”s, no comparison. Yale offered the positon to three other candidates first. They all turned it down. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that they turned it down for the same reasons as so many players are quitting? Yale can not have it both ways. Either you come to Yale to get an Ivy league education, to have the “Yale” experience and play football or you come to Yale to play football and are now forced to spend so much time in football related activities you must miss out on all the things you came to Yale for in the first place.

    • rolldawgs

      Reno has more coaching experience than Carm Cozza when he started at Yale.

      The job gets rejected because the administration won’t offer enough support to even bring in the most competitive recruits. Who wants to take a job where you’re expected to produce wins, and then you can’t get the players to do that?

      Almost no one quits to “experience what Yale has to offer”. There are rare occasions where someone fully embraces a new activity (or multiple), but there are also plenty who do that while remaining on the team. Guys quit because they’re too injured, because the new coaches have a plan/style where they don’t have a role, or in this case, where you just got beaten out and couldn’t handle it. It’s really a shame given the hurdles the team has already had to deal with in the past year.

      Regardless – roll dawgs. Can’t wait to see Williams beast Georgetown.

  • EliFBfan

    “goyale” makes a valid point about the massive time requirement to play football.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “just got beaten out and couldn’t handle it”

    I suppose it is inconceivable to the Knights-of-the-Round-Table-team-player mentality, that Mr. Whitelaw just didn’t want to bother anymore.

    Bravo to him.

    Let the Bulldog-sycophants go chant their Yale Bowl baloney somewhere else.

  • goyale

    Attend any recruiting dinner and you will here non stop talk from the deans about the “Yale experience”. Rolldawgs is absolutely correct about admissions not supporting athletics. Even when the player has met all the band requirements admissions will still not admit someone. For those who are not familiar with academic bands in the Ivy League check them out so you can see how uneven the playing field is

  • lakia

    It’s sad that this story has elicited so many comments. Sadder still, that ANYONE EVER, responds to the stupid troll (whom I shall not mention by “name”) who insinuates himself into every story, every life experience, every column.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Let the four-year visitors to New Haven, the real trolls, read the words of their own kind and ignore mine, obviously those of a bastard child of Old Blue.

    Why , for heaven’s sake, would you allow mere little scribbles on a digital posting board to irritate you, especially when signed by a a townie and a divine? ( as inauthentic a member of your august club as you could find.)

    Why would you give such a mongrel the power of your attention and annoyance?

    There must be something deeper troubling dear “lakia”.

    Best wishes for your recovery.

  • The Anti-Yale


    There I go again, channeling “Lear”, this time as Edmund. What’s with that?

  • jerrysmith

    Mr. Condro wrote a fine article. Mr. Whitelaw has chosen to keep his reasons for leaving the team PRIVATE. Why can’t we respect his privacy?

    I would just add that football is part of the Yale experience for those that choose to participate. There are also many students, local residents including young children, alumni, and others who enjoy an afernoon at Yale Bowl. Why can’t Yale achieve excellence in football as well as academics, research, community service, and other worthy endeavors? We all have different interests. I believe the tone of disrespect posted by some is not worthy of this community.

    For the record I am a former resident of Hamden and an alumnus. I am now retired and live in Rochester, NY. I still follow and enjoy Yale football through YES and internet radio. Go Bulldogs!

    Jerry Smith, Class of 1961, the last UNDEFEATED class

    • jamesdakrn

      Sadly, the administration has made it so now that football, or really sports in general, is now not a part of the Yale experience.

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