Patriots RB James White, hero of Super Bowl LI, retires after eight seasons

·3 min read

James White, the New England Patriots running back who sealed the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, announced his retirement on Thursday.

White, 30, thanked his wife and kids, his teammates, his parents, owner Robert Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick. He also tipped his cap to Patriots faithful, saying that playing in front of "the best fans in the NFL" for his entire career was "a tremendous blessing and an honor."

"To say that Foxboro will always hold a special place in my heart is an understatement," White wrote in his farewell message. "It's been the most significant chapter of my adulthood; my kids were born here; it's the place we know the best as adults and where I have grown and created my family."

White, a fourth-round draft pick out of Wisconsin in 2014, spent eight years in the NFL, all with the Patriots. He played in 95 regular season games, starting 13, and had 1,278 rushing yards on 319 attempts with 11 touchdowns and 381 receptions for 3,278 yards and 25 touchdowns.

[Set, hut, hike! Create or join a fantasy football league now!]

White is a three-time Super Bowl champion, but he will always be remembered for his performance in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons, which is considered to be one of the greatest Super Bowl performances of all time. He had 14 catches for 110 yards, six carries for 29 yards, a two-point conversion, and three touchdowns — but the last of those touchdowns is what made White's Super Bowl showing truly historic.

Super Bowl LI was the famous 28-3 comeback, and White scored the game-winning overtime touchdown to seal the Patriots' 34-28 victory. It was the very first (and thus far only) walk-off touchdown in Super Bowl history.

Kraft was effusive about White's impact on the team, both as a player and a human being.

"James White has always been one of the most reliable and dependable players on the field," Kraft said via the team website. "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. [...] 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."

Belichick, as always, had less to say, but his words were just as heartfelt.

"James defines the term consummate professional," Belichick said. "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."

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots running back James White (28) celebrates a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Patriots running back James White, who scored the game-winning overtime touchdown against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI, is retiring after eight seasons. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)