By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — James White returned to the football field for the Patriots on Monday night. The 28-year-old running back was dealing with a lot.
White is just two weeks removed from losing his father suddenly in an automobile accident in Florida. White’s mother, who was seriously injured in that car crash, is continuing to make strides in her recovery.
On top of that, just days after returning to work for practice, White’s quarterback — Cam Newton — tested positive for COVID-19. With a 1-year-old son and a pregnant wife, the uncertainty faced when taking COVID tests over the weekend had to have weighed extra heavily on White.
“It was definitely difficult coming back from Florida and everything, and then dealing with positive tests and whatnot,” White said after the Patriots’ 26-10 loss in Kansas City. “You know, I have a pregnant wife at home, so, a lot of stuff goes through my mind when it comes to that, too. It’s kind of a lot going on at one time. When you’re out there on the field, you just kind of try to focus on your job. There’s a lot of things running through your mind out there — especially mine — but I just tried to lock in.”
White rushed for 21 yards on three carries and caught seven passes for 38 yards vs. the Chiefs. It was his first game played after the death of his father, and White got emotional when asked about the influence that his father had on his football career.
“I mean, he meant a whole lot. He’s one of the biggest reasons why I played football,” White said. “Being a little kid, seeing my brother play, knowing that my dad played football, it kind of motivated me to go out there and play football. My dad, he was a coach for me growing up. Obviously, it’s not always fun having your dad be your coach, but he pushed me, made me who I am today. I miss getting that text that he would usually send me on Saturday nights before games. He’d give me … just simple texts he would send to get me preparing for the games and stuff.”
White continued: “I kind of looked back at the last text that I got Saturday before the Seahawks game just to kind of reminisce on that. He meant everything for me. He pushed me. Wouldn’t always tell me what I wanted to hear. But he just always wanted me to do the right thing and push myself to be the best I could be.”
With the first birthday of White’s son, Xzavier, taking place in the midst of everything else, it’s been as emotionally difficult a period as possible for him.
“I’m doing all right. Just kind of trying to take it day by day,” White said Monday. “Honestly all that stuff still seems kind of surreal to me. My mom’s continuing to improve and progress and get better, so that eases me up a little bit. And being out on the football field kind of eases my mind a little bit, too. So I’m just trying to push through, because that’s what my dad would want me to do. So I’m just trying to take it one day at a time and just find a way to look at all the positives in my life.”