Hub Arkush: It’s now or never for Kevin White in Year Three with Chicago Bears
For the better part of the last two and a half years, fairly or not, Kevin White has in many respects been the face of the Ryan Pace regime.
Since the merger of the NFL and AFL in 1967, the Bears have had just 17 top-10 draft choices, 11 selected seventh or higher.
The bad news about picking in the top seven is it means you have one of the seven worst teams in the NFL.
The good news is you gain an opportunity to select a Pro Bowl talent and that is for the most part the expectation that comes with the asset.
Bears top-seven picks prior to the modern era of the game include Dick Butkus (3rd overall), Gale Sayers (4th) and Mike Ditka (No. 5).
The Bears’ modern era top-seven picks include Hall Of Famers Walter Payton (4th) and Dan Hampton (4th), Jimbo Covert (6th), who some think should be in the Hall, Mark Carrier (6th), who was a Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler, Jim McMahon (5th), who led the club to its only Super Bowl title and Curtis Conway (7th), who became the first receiver in Bears history to log back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons.
The list also includes busts Lionel Antoine (3rd), Cedric Benson (4th), Waymond Bryant (3rd) and Curtis Enis (4th), and White (7th).
George Halas drafted Butkus, Sayers and Ditka and Jim Finks and/or Bill Tobin, the architects of the ’85 Bears, drafted Payton, Hampton, Covert, Carrier and McMahon.
The rest were drafted by neither, thus the importance of White to the Pace regime.
The problem with him being the face of the team is he has for the most part been invisible since arriving in Chicago, playing in just four of the Bears’ 32 games.
White met the media Tuesday to talk about what comes next after head coach John Fox was purposely vague last week discussing his status.
I asked him if he felt he was still limited in any way or if he’s ready to go 100 percent.
“I’m comfortable with everything so whatever I have to do, that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “Other than that it’s their call upstairs.”
When White was asked if he feels pressure or urgency to deliver after for the most part missing his first two seasons, he said, “It’s got to happen now, I’ve got to turn it up.
“You know even in Year One, Year Two, I always want to turn it up and show what I can do, so to me, Year Three, it’s time.”
White does not appear to be the ebullient young man he was upon first arriving in Chicago two seasons ago, but there is some debate whether he has become testy about the repeated queries on his health, or just weary of answering the same questions over and over.
White had this to say about fans and media who call him a bust after his two lost seasons and whether or not he takes it personally or uses it for motivation:
“Like I said, you guys can write it up, fans, everybody got their own opinion so I’ll just leave it at that. If you say I won’t be able to score a touchdown or get 100 yards in a game, that’s not going to affect how I play. I just know I’ve got to turn it up and do what I’ve got to do.”
The bottom line for now is White won’t turn 25 until the end of June, is still 6-3, 215 pounds and as far as we know can still run a 4.4 40-yard dash.
But he also has still yet to score his first NFL touchdown, with Alshon Jeffery gone is now expected to be the Bears’ No. 1 receiver and if he doesn’t meet that expectation, the bust label will probably become a reality while the pressure on Pace to produce would increase dramatically.
Fair or not, it does appear to be now or never for White in Chicago.