The Cautionary Football Life of LenDale White

In a recent Los Angeles Times feature, LenDale White opens up about the realities of football beyond the shield.  When he was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft, I recall there being some debate as to whether he or backfield mate Reggie Bush was going to be the better running back in the National Football League.  

His time at USC was spent in the shadow of the flashier Bush, but he was an incredible college player. A sledgehammer of a running back!

Classical Tailback – Lendale White USC Highlights

A compilation of some of Lendale White’s highlights at the University of Southern California. The “Thunder” to Reggie Bush’s “Lightning” in USC’s legendary backfield of the mid-2000’s, Lendale White trucked defenders en-route to an astounding 52 rushing touchdowns despite sharing carries with an incendiary talent like Bush.

His 57 touchdowns for the Trojans was largely due to his physical running style; relentless, bruising, nearly unstoppable down by the goal line.  Therefore I believed in his chances as a breakout star.  Late in the 2006 Rose Bowl, LenDale White was stopped on Fourth and Two.  Life didn’t get any better from there.

White was drafted by the Tennessee Titans but his NFL career lasted only four years.  

White says he may have suffered 20 to 30 concussions over his NFL career, one every other game or so. He told the LA Times he was only diagnosed with one. 

 You lose consciousness and then all of a sudden its like shoooo-ooooof, White says, as he described the sensation. Like, thats how it sounds, like shhhhhhloooof, and then all of a sudden you hear the play again.”

Hed wander around in a haze, with Vince Young directing him to the right spot until he regained his senses.

Pills were his way to cope with the constant headaches and chronic pain.

And I dont mean like popping a pain pill because Im hurt, White says. I mean popping scripts. Like 10 Vicodins at a time type [stuff]. You know what I mean? To feel it, like Im high. To feel the numbness.

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The piece went on to further detail Whites struggles with depression.

The mental pain was worse. Anita White Taylor, his mother, sat him down and talked about depression. Shed gone through bouts, too, she told him. She asked him to see someone. She saw a commercial about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, on television. She begged him to get checked out. She asked him: Why dont you find something else to devote your life to?

According to, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE, was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

He told me, Mom, football is all I know, Taylor says. Thats all I know.

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