New England Patriots running back James White retired on August 11th. After playing college football at the University of Wisconsin, White joined head coach Bill Belichick and New England when the Patriots selected him with the 130th overall pick, or the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He played for the Patriots for eight seasons, six of which were alongside Tom Brady, and won three Super Bowls.
For the 20 NFL seasons Brady played in New England, over his eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame NFL career, he always had the security blanket of a top receiving running back. When he began his career, it was Kevin Faulk, who retired in 2011 and transitioned this role to Shane Vereen. The Patriots selected White before Vereen's last season with the team and White took over the role in 2015.
Here's how these three backs compared in the regular season and playoffs:
|Years w/ Brady
|Years w/ Brady
White's regular season performance is fairly similar to Faulk's, but he achieved all that in nearly half the playing time. Also, he scored almost twice as many touchdowns. In the playoffs, White again rose above his competition, especially when it came to how often Brady looked his way.
The playoff resume also includes what is potentially White's proudest moment.
The Comeback Catches
Super Bowl 51 is an all-time classic and one of the greatest championship games in sports history. The Atlanta Falcons built up a commanding lead of 28-3 with a little more than 14 minutes remaining in regulation. The Patriots' comeback had several memorable moments, but the constant piece of New England's road to victory was White, who decided to make some memories with some insane career highlights.
White had a Super Bowl record 14 receptions for 110 yards and ran the ball six times for another 29 yards. The Patriots comeback also included four trips by White into the end zone:
- 5-yard pass made it 28-9
- 2-point conversion rush made it 28-20
- 1-yard rush made it 28-26
- 2-yard rush made it 34-28 (the game-winning touchdown)
White's final score was also the first ever points scored in overtime in a Super Bowl. When the final buzzer sounded, White had scored 20 of the Patriots' 34 points in the game. Kids fantasize about playing their absolute best when it matters most. For almost all pro athletes this rarely happens, but for James White, he couldn't have dreamed it up any better.
And while Brady was named the MVP, everyone in New England knows that it was White who put in an ESPN highlight reel of a performance to make sure the Patriots were Super Bowl Champions once more.
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