Patriots Captains Praise ‘Tremendous Legacy’ James White Carries

'He's a true Patriot, but he's a better human being'


August 12

FOXBORO, Mass. — James White was known as a quiet leader in New England, but his impact was felt throughout his eight-year career with the Patriots.

The three-time Super Bowl winning running back announced his retirement Thursday. Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick gave their thanks and praise to White — as did former teammate Julian Edelman.

After the Week 1 preseason loss to the New York Giants on Thursday, New England special teams captain Matthew Slater wanted to take the time postgame to honor White, both as a player and as a person.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being around for a long time, and I think one of the great things about this place is the fact we’ve had so many great individuals, in particularly players, that have left tremendous legacies here,” Slater said. “It’s my personal belief that all of us leave legacies in things that we do — our fingerprints are left on relationships. They’re left on our professional careers. They’re left on the lives of our families, the people in the communities. We all leave legacies one way or another. Some of us leave good ones, some of us not so good ones and some of us leave great legacies.

“And when I think about James White, I think he left a tremendous, tremendous legacy here, not just for what he did on the field. When I think about all the things that we hope to embody here — all the things I hope to embody as a dad, as a husband, as a teammate, as a friend, James embodied all of that. So it’s tough to say goodbye to someone like that. We’re not saying goodbye, but as he transitions to the next phase of his life, I certainly want to be one of the first people to celebrate the legacy that James White left here. He’s a true Patriot, but he’s a better human being, and we’re all better for having been around him.”

While he did not play Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, Devin McCourty also wanted to honor White, and he came up with an analogy to illustrate how great of a person the 30-year-old running back was.

“I think the biggest thing for me with James is you don’t say this too often about people but he’s one of those guys if someday my daughter found a guy and said, ‘I’m going to bring home a guy kind of like James White,’ I’d be excited,” McCourty said. “Just to come in here and not play much, really not at all as a rookie and work his butt off.

“I know Josh McDaniels used to always say, ‘If I had 11 James White’s, it’d be perfect because I can tell him something in training camp and it might not show up for 12 weeks, but when it shows up again, he’s gonna be on it.’ Always a bittersweet feeling. To have a guy like that in the locker room, you know the impact it has. We knew what it was like last year when he went through surgery and just not having him around all the time and the impact on the team. I think now, you’re happy for him.”

Brian Hoyer, who played the first two series against the Giants, was an opponent and teammate of White, and he spoke on what kind of leader White was to the Patriots locker room.

“I want to start off first and just congratulate James White on an outstanding career,” Hoyer said. “We’re going miss him. For me, having known James all the way back to 2017, I can honestly say the most dependable teammate I’ve ever had. You never questioned James’ work ethic, his leadership — even though he was a little quiet. We all loved him, and I want to wish him well in the next chapter and just say how much I respect him and how fortunate I feel to have played with him. He’s truly a special player.”

While fans will remember the clutch moments in White’s career, especially in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots captains gave everyone a reminder of the running back’s career off the field that will be remembered in years to come.’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

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