James White has given his first media interview after announcing his retirement from the NFL.
The former New England Patriots running back announced Thursday that he's moving on to the next chapter of his life after an impeccable 8-year career. He spoke candidly to the hosts of NFL Network's "Good Morning Football" -- including former teammate Jason McCourty -- to discuss his decision, get a little nostalgic, and share what's next.
Here's what we learned from Friday morning's show:
White shared how he was feeling down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons, and while there may have been some doubt, he wasn't going out like that.
On Feb. 5, 2017, White all but cemented a future place in the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
The numbers sound even more absurd looking back, but in what became one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, White had 14 catches for 110 receiving yards, a receiving touchdown, 29 yards carried, two rushing touchdowns, and a 2-point conversion to lift the Patriots to victory in overtime.
Even Tom Brady knew White was the should-have-been Super Bowl MVP after that game, implied when the quarterback gave his trusty running back the Chevrolet Colorado that Brady had been awarded himself. Unsurprisingly, White tried to pass the shine on to Dont'a Hightower instead.
"I mean, you definitely feel like it's over -- that's for sure," White said. "But for me that was my first opportunity to play in the Super Bowl and I definitely didn't want to go out like that. I just wanted to do whatever I could to fight, scratch, and claw to help us get back into the football game. Obviously, it wasn't just my play that got us back into it, but I wanted to do whatever I could to scratch and claw to get us back in it. It took a lot of big plays. We just kept getting closer and closer, and I think once Dont'a made that strip sack that really put us over the hump. We got this."
Spending his entire career with the Patriots after the team drafted him in 2014, White explained why he was such a good fit in New England.
White's teammates aren't using clichés when they look for adjectives to describe him. Dependable, reliable, humble, better person than football player -- all these things are true about the silent leader.
As he revealed, that's what he set out to be for his team and coaches when he got his opportunity. White believes that it's what made New England such a great fit for him.
"I think it was great because when we walked in the door you see those signs," White said. "Do your job. Put your team first. Those are things that I've always been about. I've never been a "me" guy -- I've always been about helping the team win football games and it was the perfect fit for me. Obviously, my first year, I didn't really get the opportunity to play, but I saw those veteran guys and all that hard work they put in to make it to a Super Bowl my rookie year and win it. I was itching to be out there my rookie year, didn't get the opportunity, but that next year, I want to do whatever I could to get out there and contribute and I ended up getting my opportunity and I just wanted to take it and run with it."
When it comes to the Patriots offense, and play calling, White wants everyone to "just let them work."
There's a lot of discussion about who is going to call the Patriots' plays this season with no official offensive coordinator named. White thinks the panic is premature and that it will all work itself out.
"I think a lot of people are kind of rushing to judgment when it comes to all that," White said. "Bill has coached a lot of football, Matty P (Patricia) has coached a lot of football, so has Joe Judge. I think you got to let those guys work. A lot of coaches coach a lot of different positions before they end up being the offensive coordinator -- they can coach on the defensive side of the ball at first. I think a lot of people really realize that a lot of coaches coach a lot of different positions before they get their, quote unquote, main job. We got to let those guys work. There's a lot of talent on that offense from the quarterback position, offensive line, tight ends, running backs, receivers -- we're very deep at the receiver position. So I think that Matt Patricia, Joe Judge, and Bill Belichick are putting those guys in the right position to be successful. I think Patriots fans will be happy with the product that they put out there this year."
Last, and definitely not least, it turns out White has a pretty solid Bill Belichick impression. This story about the coach from White's rookie year alone was worth watching the entire segment.
"My favorite Belichick moment is about myself," James said. "My rookie year I was having an alright training camp, or whatever. Got a rep, a run the previous play, ran down the field, and I didn't know I had the next rep so I was pretty gassed. I jogged back to the huddle. I got another handoff. I tried to bounce it outside and Brandon Browner knocked me off my feet. I went and finished the rep, jogged back to the huddle, and Coach Belichick was like, 'Come here, White. Come here, White. The bigger they are, the harder they hit.' I was like, 'What?' "