Former Chicago Bears 7th overall pick Kevin White felt a range of emotions during his interview with NBC Sports Chicago. One that is almost inevitable for players like him is bitterness. A feeling of being cheated out of what they feel should’ve been so much more success. Nobody can say the talented athlete didn’t work hard. It was apparent he did everything asked of him. Yet the football gods took it away with his constant injury issues. He feels like he never got a fair chance to show what he could do.
Well, the football gods and Matt Nagy it seems. White spoke glowingly of former Bears head coach John Fox and how he protected the receiver from the prying eyes of the media during his health issues. Yet when the subject of Nagy came up, he seemed a bit icier in his disposition. A bit of a surprise considering how well players seem to like the man. So what gives?
It comes down to a feeling that he never gave White a true shot in 2018.
When I asked White what went wrong in 2018, he sort of bristled at the notion I was looking for the answer to be about him. Instead, he repeated this word seven times: “Business.”…
…“I would go on scout team and go against the first team just to show, like, you wanna see it again? I’ll show it again,” White said. “So I didn’t see anything coming from it so I would kind of shut down sometimes. Like, man, y’all got it. I don’t know what else you can do. I’m preparing like I’m about to go out there and get 10 (catches) for 100 (yards).
“And then I get to the game and it’s on the bench. Nothing. Nothing.”…
…“Once I seen how it was played, I was like okay, I get it. I get it,” White said. “Because those players are getting paid under a new coach. Those players are getting paid 26 (million) or whatever the numbers was where it was like okay, Kevin’s getting paid four (million), this player’s getting paid seven (million) or whatever the case may be.
“But that was my initial — I’m the seventh pick, getting paid too, fair shot. It should be a fair shake.
“But I’m not saying it was never no drops or never an error. No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying, if you compare who I was competing with, I win all day.”
Would Kevin White have finally delivered if he’d gotten a true shot?
It’s an interesting what-if question. Would Kevin White have actually produced if he’d been allowed more opportunities in 2018? That year he was targeted eight times, catching four passes for 92 yards. By comparison, Taylor Gabriel was targeted 93 times that year for 688 yards. Averaging things out, White would’ve caught 46 passes for 1,069 yards if he’d received that same number of targets given the pace he’d set. Odds are he would’ve slowed down a bit but even so probably would’ve had at least 800 yards and a couple of touchdowns.
Of course this is presuming he would’ve managed to stay healthy despite the increased attention.
The sad reality is the Bears were vindicated in their decision-making process. Gabriel had a solid year and played every game. White signed with Arizona that subsequent offseason and tore his hamstring before he ever had a chance to play. So he can blame Nagy for not giving him a fair shot. The reality is he didn’t do enough to show the head coach and the staff that he could be relied on. The best ability is availability.