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Heisman winner White gives up football

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 11, 2005) -- Former Heisman Trophy winner Jason White ended his professional career, citing his weak knees.

White, who had been competing for third quarterback with the Tennessee Titans, said he has the head and heart to play in the NFL. He doesn't have the knees.

"It's always been a dream of mine, but certain things won't allow me to chase that dream," White said. "It's kind of out of my hands at this point."

White won the Heisman Trophy in 2003 and led Oklahoma to back-to-back BCS title games. He also won the Davey O'Brien award twice and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm title and is Oklahoma's career passing leader with 7,922 yards and in touchdown passes with 81.

His career at Oklahoma lasted six years because of reconstructive surgery on each knee. He was redshirted after the first one in 1999, then earned a medical exemption for an extra year of eligibility after the second in 2002.

White joined the Titans in May as an undrafted rookie after an audition with the Kansas City Chiefs did not lead to a contract offer.

He said he was still feeling the effects of the knee surgeries.

"I always had trouble, even in the summer, dropping back when practice wasn't every day," he said. "Now that practice was every day it got to the point where one of my knees was super sore, so I started favoring it with the other one. Then the other one started hurting. I took a couple of days off this week and it hasn't really changed."

He said he informed coach Jeff Fisher of his decision Aug. 10.

"I stuck it out as long as I could," White said. "I just came to a point where it took me four seconds to drop back on a five-step drop. By that time, I'm sacked."

Fisher said White's numbers prove that he was able to move offenses and win games.

"You don't necessarily, at that position, have to be the most athletic or the most gifted or have the strongest arm. You have to move an offense and you have to have the intangibles, and that's what he's had, and that's what he's proven in a great college career," Fisher said.

White had split time equally with Gino Guidugli of Cincinnati and Shane Boyd of Kentucky, but was held back in recent days when the pain in his knees increased.

He planned to return home to Tuttle, Okla., by the night of Aug. 11 and plans to pursue jobs as a football coach next week.

"Sometimes I think that you have to swallow your pride a little bit and know when you're done," he said.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops found out about White's retirement following the Sooners' morning practice Aug. 11.

"Jason knows what's best for him," Stoops said. "If that's what he has to do, he's had an incredible career here."

After his second knee surgery, White had to take days off between practices. But before last season, he was back to working out every day without problems. He then made it through the entire season without injury problems.

Stoops thinks White, who has a degree in sociology, will be a great coach.

"I'm sure possibly all the extra work probably could be bothersome to him healthwise, and he just decided he wants to move on," Stoops said. "Good for him. He'll have a successful career in whatever he does."

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