With the Patriots knee-deep in the 2017-18 season, the focus is no longer on Super Bowl LI. The comeback, the sweet taste of winning a championship is all part of the fabric of last year.
But for James White, whose standout performance set Super Bowl records, got the Patriots across the goal line and changed the course of the game, the attention he has received since Feb. 5 is still new. So last week, the Patriots running back penned a story for The Players' Tribune about the past few months.
The essay details his football career as a member of the "running back committee." James put his head down, did his job and snuck under the radar. Though he felt he was good at his position in high school and college, there was always someone ahead of him, including Giovanni Bernard, who now plays for the Bengals.
James and Gio grew up together, and while Gio got more reps on their high school team, instead of becoming bitter, James developed the quiet focus and determined work ethic that has since defined him.
"But I think playing with someone as talented as Gio helped me learn how to put my ego aside. If I got down because Gio had a better game or got more carries, I probably would never have become the player I am today," James wrote. "I learned right away that you can’t be envious of a teammate’s success, because that’s unproductive. I let Gio’s success inspire me to do better, and, eventually, we both ended up getting where we needed to be."
By the time he graduated high school, James had a "team before self" mentality, one that served him well at Wisconsin. There he played with three other running backs who would also make it to the NFL -- Montee Ball, John Clay and Melvin Gordon.
Still the split time didn't discourage him. When James did get the ball, he wanted to make an impact. He wanted to help the team win.
"But I’m glad I had the experience I had at Wisconsin because I ended being drafted by an organization that not only discourages selfishness, it absolutely will not tolerate it. When you play for the Patriots, there’s never any second-guessing what the goal is," he wrote. "There’s no questioning your role or how you’re used. You take direction, you practice and you execute. That’s how you win Super Bowls."
Even with a 25-point defecit, James wrote that there was no dramatic moment. It was just pure focus.
So when James was the one who put the ball across the goal line, the media frenzy was immediate. And it was nothing that he was used to.
"I can see how those who aren’t prepared for the spotlight can get overwhelmed by it. I guess that’s why I’m glad my entire life had prepared me for my moment," he wrote.
Read the rest of his essay here. Read
The NFL is calling all kid reporters to duty. This year’s NFL Rush Kids Reporter Contest has already kicked off and children between the ages of 6 and 12 are encouraged to enter. They have until Aug. 5 to submit their essay with the help of parents to be considered for the top award. Once the contest closes, fans can vote for their favorite essay.
For a chance to win the grand prize of a shot to see your favorite team in action, kids should write an essay about why they believe their favorite NFL team will have a dominant season in 2016. They should “use examples from the team’s last season, the NFL Draft, Training Camp, your favorite players, coaches and more,” the website for the contest said.
If you don’t win the grand prize, there’s no reason to worry. Two finalists will be selected. They will win two tickets to a regular season NFL game of a team near you.
The Patriots are no strangers to kid reporters asking the tough questions. Just before Super Bowl XLIX, Lil' Chya Mayo interviewed Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the Super Bowl Media Day.
We look forward to reading what the kids of Patriots Nation have to report. To enter the contest, click here. Read