Patriots Super Bowl rally hero James White retires

AP Sports Writer (AP) — James White, who scored the game-winning touchdown in the New England Patriots’ historic comeback against Atlanta in Super Bowl 51, announced his retirement Thursday.

White has won three Super Bowls in eight seasons – all with the Patriots.

“This chapter has been one I will treasure. I look forward to the sequel,” White wrote on Instagram.

White set Super Bowl records for points scored in a game (20) and receptions (14) as the Patriots rallied from a 28-3 third quarter deficit to beat the Falcons 34-28 on February 5, 2017, the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

The 30-year-old White was trying to recover from hip surgery that abruptly ended his 2021 season. He dislocated his hip during the Patriots’ Week 3 game with New Orleans.

White also struggled in 2020 as he dealt with the aftermath of his father’s death and his mother’s serious injury in a car accident.

He spent seven months recovering from hip surgery before signing a new two-year contract in March to stay in New England. But he started training camp on the roster physically unable to perform and was never allowed to return to full contact training.

Although undersized at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds when he was selected out of Wisconsin in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, by his second season he had become the Patriots’ go-to receiver out of the backfield — especially on the third try. .

He appeared in 95 regular season games and rushed for 1,278 yards on 319 attempts with 11 touchdowns. As a receiver, his numbers were more impressive: 381 catches for 3,278 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also appeared in 12 playoff games, scoring eight touchdowns (five rushing, three receiving).

In a statement, Patriots coach Bill Belichick called White “one of the best team players I’ve ever coached.”

“James defines the term consummate professional,” Belichick said. “His reliability, consistency, selflessness and performance under pressure are elite. Combining great intelligence, speed and elusiveness, James was a perfect candidate for our attacking pass. Although soft-spoken, he brought exceptional leadership and competitive tenacity to the team.

Many of White’s former teammates sent him their best wishes on social media.

“Teammate, champion, football player through and through. Congratulations on the perfect career,” former Patriots quarterback Top Brady posted on Instagram.

“My brother on and off the pitch. Third and James White,” retired Patriots receiver Julian Edelman said.

Although White has become emblematic of Patriots culture, he will be best remembered for how he helped lead New England to the fifth of the franchise’s six Super Bowl titles.

New England trailed 21-3 at halftime, and teammates said a speech by White in the locker room helped spark the comeback. With the Patriots down 25 points, White scored two touchdowns and had a 2-point conversion run to send the game into overtime. He then ran for the game-ending score in the extra period.

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