With the NFL season ready to kickoff this week, the Talk of Fame Network sat down with the hero of Super Bowl LI, James White, to see how life has changed for him and the Patriots as they prepare to launch a defense of their title Thursday night against the Chiefs.
Down 28-3 to the Atlanta Falcons with 2:12 to play in the third quarter, the Patriots concocted an improbable come-from-behind victory ... even more improbable White when White became the key player. Although an effective third down back during the 2016 season, he was never the focus of the offense until Bill Belichick decided early in Super Bowl LI to sit down LaGarrette Blount, his lumbering 1,200-yard rusher, and utilize White’s pass catching skills.
That decision resulted in a Super Bowl-record performance by White whose 14 receptions and 20 points (three touchdowns and a two-point conversion) set new standards for the game. White also scored the winning touchdown in overtime, meaning that Wisconsin running backs had the winning scores in the only two NFL championships decided in overtime -- the Colts’ 1958 NFL championship-game victory over the Giants and the Patriots’ remarkable Super Bowl win over the Falcons.
So did James “Sweet Feet’’ White have any idea who Alan “The Horse’’ Ameche was? You bet.
“I know a lot about Alan Ameche,’’ White said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “His name is up everywhere (at Wisconsin).’’
The former Heisman Trophy winner may have the bigger reputation at Wisconsin, but who had the better nickname?
“I’d vote for myself,’’ White joked.
White explained that many of the plays called for him that day he seldom practiced but that he was ready because “I try to pay attention to all the details so if they happen to call it I’m prepared for whatever.’’
With wide receiver Julian Edelman lost for the season after suffering an ACL tear during an exhibition game, it would appear White will be needed to pick up some of the slack. But does the Unlikely Hero first have to let go of his Super Bowl memory?
“You dream of that as a kid,’’ White said of that game. “But I try to approach every year as a clean slate. This is a 'What Have You Done for me Lately' league.’’
Maybe nobody understands that better than the Talk of Fame Network’s other guest, 11-time Hall-of-Fame finalist Jerry Kramer. A week ago Kramer was nominated for the 2018 Hall-of-Fame class by the Hall’s senior committee, joining former Houston Oilers’ linebacker Robert Brazile. At 81, Kramer had given up much hope that he would ever be enshrined despite his record number of nominations and the fact he’d been named as the ONLY guard on the NFL’s 50th anniversary team.
“I’d accepted the fact I wasn’t going to be in,’’ Kramer said. “I got my lip out a couple times. Then I sat down and said, 'Hey, fool, football has been good to you. The game has given you so many presents. If they don’t give you one, okay. You got no bitches. Quit sucking your thumb.' ’’
Contrast that with recent whining by any number of guys who haven’t gotten in, and you see there is a better way to handle disappointment than beating your chest. Even though he had given up believing it would happen, Kramer admitted “In the quiet of the evening sometimes I’d let my mind wander to what it might be like to get that call. The dream was still alive. Weak but alive.’’
Kramer reveals why he thinks he’s been so long denied by the Hall’s voters, how his insider book “Instant Replay’’ may have hurt his chances and why he’s made a conscious decision never to visit the Hall of Fame.
“I haven’t been invited,’’ he said.
The Talk of Fame Network also visits with the Houston Chronicle’s long-time NFL writer and Hall of Fame voter, John McClain, to get the lowdown on how Hurricane Harvey has affected both his city and the team he covers, the Texans. And it sits down with Hall-of-Fame voter Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com to get his take on how Denver dealt with the failures of owner Pat Bowlen and senior candidate Randy Gradishar to be nominated for the Class of 2018.
There’s all that and more, including an in-depth explanation by Ron, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge on how the senior and contributor committees made their Hall-of-Fame choices -- and they should know. They serve on both committees.
To hear all that and more, you can hear the full two-hour show on SB Nation Radio as well as by using the TuneIn app or you can download the free podcast at iTunes. You can also access the show any time on our website, talkoffamenetwork.com.