By Tiffany Williams –
Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots had a proper sendoff for running back James White, who announced his retirement from the NFL last Thursday. 30-year-old, White was drafted by the Patriots in 2014, and In his eight year career, he won three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots.
In an early Thursday morning tweet on August 11th, White, who in March, signed a two-year, $5 million contract to return to New England said “New England will be in my heart forever. Thank you for unwavering support over the years. I am forever grateful. This chapter has been one that I will cherish. I look forward to what is next.”
Shortly after White tweeted those words, Bill Belichick released a statement of his own, saying “James defines the term consummate professional,” said Belichick. “His dependability, consistency, unselfishness and performance under pressure are elite. Combining great intelligence, quickness and elusiveness, James was a perfect fit for our pass offense. While soft spoken, he brought exceptional leadership and competitive toughness to the team. He was a multi-year team captain and one of the most respected, best team players I have ever coached.”
At Last Thursday night’s preseason opener post game presser, each player that took to the podium had something to say about their friend and teammate including QB Brian Hoyer who as soon as he came to the podium said, “I want to start off first and just congratulate James White on an outstanding career. We’re going miss him. For me, having known James all the way back to 2017, I can honestly say the most dependable teammate I’ve ever had. You never questioned James’ work ethic, his leadership, even though he was a little quiet. We all loved him, and I want to wish him well in the next chapter and just say how much I respect him and how fortunate I feel to have played with him. He’s truly a special player.”
QB Bailey Zappe was asked a question as soon as he got to the podium but before answering the question, Zappe told reporters, “Yeah, no, I want to say something real fast before I answer that question. I want to congratulate James White on an amazing career and his retirement. I’ve only been here for four or five months and only known him for that long, and just to be able to be in the facility with him, be able to see how he carried himself and kind of learned many things from him and how he prepared. It’s really something I’m going to try to carry on.”
July 21, the Patriots placed veteran running back James White on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, following a hip injury in Week 3 of the 2021 season against the New Orleans Saints. On watching White recover from injury, Devin McCourty told the media “Not surprising, just knowing his character, knowing what he’s about. We knew he’d come in here and work his butt off and try to get back. Even talking to him coming back from injury – especially a tough injury like that, the frustration: the good days, the bad days. I’m just happy for him finding some peace. I’m sure being home with your kids always brings some joy and purpose, so, I think, for all of us, especially these younger guys in the locker room, to come in here this offseason and training camp and to see him work and to see him run, I think it really allowed them to see what it means to be a true pro in this league.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and a number of White’s former teammates were in attendance for his retirement ceremony at Gillette Stadium Tuesday night. “It’s been a great honor for me to have you on our team, to have your leadership, you’re a role model for all of us, not just the other players but the coaches,” Belichick told White. “Your work ethic, toughness, commitment to the team, something for us all to emulate and match… We’ll miss you but we’ll never forget your contributions and the standard you set for us. That will live on in those banners up there that wouldn’t be hanging without you.”
“I’m extremely grateful to play for such a great organization, great owner, great coach for eight years,” said White. “This is a special place, I can’t really put it into words. Too many people to thank. So many people that helped me make it to this point.”
White finished his career with 1,278 rushing yards and 3,278 receiving yards. In the 14 games he played in the 2020-21 season, he had 121 rushing yards, including two touchdowns. He also completed 49 receptions for 375 receiving yards and one touchdown that season.