Why Pats’ James White comes into 2017 “with a clean slate”


James White photo courtesy New England Patriots

When you talk about New England’s star players, you’re talking Tom Brady … and Rob Gronkowski … and Julian Edelman and Brandin Cooks … and Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty … and, of course, James White.

Pardon me. Who?

James White, the running back who had such an enormous game in Super Bowl LI — scoring three times, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime; producing a critical two-point conversion; and catching a Super Bowl-record 14 passes — that Brady said that White … and not Brady … should have been the game’s MVP.

White doesn’t agree.

“No, it’s not my choice,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to catch those passes if it weren’t for him. He threw for almost 500 yards, so you can’t take anything away from him.”

Agreed.

Nevertheless, the Patriots wouldn’t have … couldn’t have … won without White, who set a Super Bowl record for points scored (20) and may be a high draft pick in this week’s Fantasy Football drafts across the country. And that’s because he can do just about everything — run, catch, block and score, all of which were on display at Super Bowl LI.

But, as his head coach is fond of pointing out, what happens now has little or nothing to do with what happened yesterday, last week or last season — even if your last game of the last season was one for the ages, with the Patriots rallying from a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to score the unlikeliest of Super Bowl victories.

For some guys, living off that memory might be tough. In fact, conventional wisdom says there’s a Super Bowl curse that keeps teams that lose a Super Bowl one year from reaching it the next — with the implication that players and coaches never conquer the disappointment of the loss. But White says he’ll have no trouble moving on from the greatest performances of his pro career and one of the greatest in Super Bowl history.

Mostly because he has no choice.

“It’s not too hard for me,” White said. “I try to approach every year with a clean slate, no matter what happened the previous year. Nobody cares what you did last year. It’s a What Have You Done Lately league, so you’ve got to go out there and prove yourself every day and every practice and every game.”

But Jones has proven himself … at least to the Patriots he has. They rewarded him with an offseason contract extension that pays him $12 million over the next three years. So, let’s see … in the past seven months he was the star of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, gained a new contract and received a Super Bowl ring the size of Massachusetts.

What’s next?

“I’m just excited to have an opportunity to be in this league,” White said. “I know a lot of people dream of having this opportunity, so I try not to take it for granted, be a good person on and off the field, work hard and be a person that people respect.”

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