Holed up in his Florida home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, James White spends his days changing diapers, watching classic sports games, binging “Ozark” on Netflix. Standard quarantine fare.
Oh, and he’s also preparing to have his body smashed by 300-pound defenders in a few short months.
With the coronavirus delaying the start of NFL offseason programs and temporarily shuttering team facilities and independent gyms around the country, White and hundreds of other players have needed to find creative ways of staying fit.
“Me, I’m on the treadmill,” the Patriots running back said Thursday during a video conference with New England reporters. “I have dumbbells. Doing abs. Trying to do some yoga. Jump rope. I’ll probably run outside tomorrow a little bit since it’s pretty hot down here. … It’s just not easy for everybody. Not everybody has access to weights or (is) able to run. It’s cold in some places and things of that nature.
“So it’ll be interesting to see how guys find ways to stay in shape, and I hope everybody has some sort of access to do something, because we’re a business. You need to be in shape once you get back out there, so I just hope everybody’s doing something.”
As a veteran leader, White will have a role in ensuring his teammates are, in fact, keeping up with their training regimens. New England’s captains — five of the seven from 2019 will be back this season, including White and re-signed free agents Matthew Slater and Devin McCourty — have yet to meet to discuss contingency plans, but White said they plan to do so as the original start date for offseason workouts (April 20) draws closer.
“I’m sure in the coming weeks, we’ll kind of figure out ways to stay in touch with everybody once the actual period with OTAs and whatnot was supposed to start,” White said. “I’m sure everybody will come together and talk with each other, find ways to communicate so when we actually do get things going, it’s a smooth sailing process.”
With the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continuing to rise in the United States, the NFL very well could cancel all spring practices and workouts, which would keep players scattered until training camp and leave only a slim window for pre-season preparation. The NFL said earlier this week it does not plan to shorten or delay the regular season.
White expressed faith in Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s ability to get his troops ready regardless of circumstances. But it’ll be on the players to keep themselves in shape until the team can reconvene.
“Coach Belichick will do a great job of preparing us no matter what the situation may be,” White said. “Things may be a little bit faster-paced because we may be missing some of the OTAs or things of that nature, (but I’m) completely confident in what Bill will have prepared for us.
“And for myself and all the other leaders, we’ve got to do a good job of making sure everybody is trying to stay in shape, staying abreast of the offense, defense, special teams, so whenever we can get back going, it’s not like everybody is slowing into everything and we can keep it fast-paced.”
Most importantly, though, White is urging everyone to stay safe and use proper caution until the danger of this virus subsides.
“I’m just making the most of the situation, because some people are in a difficult situation at this point,” he said. “They don’t know when their next meal’s coming or when the check’s coming or things of that nature. There’s a lot of sick people. There’s people dying each and every day.
“I hope everyone’s taking the situation seriously, because it’s affecting a lot of people. And the more aware people are, the faster things will get a little better.”