James White has been a key member of the New England Patriots offense for most of the last eight years, and as well-respected a player as any inside the team’s locker room. It was therefore no surprise to see an outpour of positive reaction after the 30-year-old announced his retirement from the NFL on Thursday.
Among those sharing their thoughts on White and his career were Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
“James defines the term consummate professional,” Belichick wrote in a statement released by the club.
“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.”
White originally joined the Patriots as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 and over the next few seasons became as valuable a player as any on the team’s roster. Appearing in a combined 107 regular season and playoff games, he gained a combined 5,208 yards from scrimmage, and scored 44 career touchdowns.
He also won three Super Bowls and was voted to the Patriots’ Team of the 2010s. Additionally, he served as a team captain for the past four years.
“James White has always been one of the most reliable and dependable players on the field,” Kraft’s statement read. “He’s a soft-spoken leader who has led by example and was the best at what he did, leading all NFL running backs in receptions and receiving touchdowns over the past seven years. Our fans will remain eternally grateful for his record-setting performance in Super Bowl LI when he helped the Patriots overcome a 28-3 deficit by scoring 20 points, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
“As great of a player as James has been for us, he’s an even better person. He is a man of great character and integrity and earned everyone’s respect through his work ethic, professionalism and positive daily demeanor. James became a part of the Patriots’ family while in New England and while his presence in our locker room will be missed, we are happy for James and his family as they embark on a new adventure. As a three-time Super Bowl Champion, we look forward to celebrating his career contributions for years to come.”
How exactly the Patriots will celebrate those contributions has yet to be determined, but it would not be a surprise to see him honored at one point during the upcoming regular season. Of course, he also is a realistic candidate to enter the team Hall of Fame as early as his first year of eligibility in 2026.