Two years ago, after Tom Brady won the Super Bowl MVP award, he gifted the Chevy truck that comes along with the honor to then-rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the game-sealing interception.
On Monday morning, Brady mused that he may be making another gift.
This time the recipient will be third-year running back James White, who caught a Super Bowl-record 14 passes and scored three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
“I think James White deserves it; it would be nice for him,” Brady said at his MVP press conference – at which he gamely smiled and posed with NFL commissioner/personal nemesis Roger Goodell when handed the large silver football MVP trophy. “But it took a real team effort; there were so many plays. I got back to my room last night and it was pretty late and I was still pretty wired, so I watched the highlights and you go through the sequence of all those plays and how many critical plays that had to be made… It was just a great team performance. I’m so proud of this team, we faced a lot of adversity over the year and overcame with a lot of mental toughness.”
White, a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2014, was not active for the playoffs his rookie season, and was active for only three regular season games that year. While the Patriots quickly realized how smart and versatile he was, the role of third-down back also requires the player be a staunch pass protector, and at the time he was drafted, White wasn’t quite strong enough.
But with Shane Vereen, one of the stars of Super Bowl XLIX, signing with the New York Giants after that season and ascending back Dion Lewis missing the second half of the season to a torn ACL, White was thrust into that third-down role.
And according to Brady, he took the job very seriously.
“James White is like my oldest son (Jack) – he just does everything right,” Brady said. “You can’t get mad at him because even if he doesn’t make the play, he feels worse about it than you do. He’s just the best teammate, he’s an incredible player, and he’s been that way since he assumed that big role when Dion went down last year.
“That particular role in our offense, in the Kevin Faulk mold, in the Danny Woodhead mold, in the Shane Vereen mold, what Dion and what James have done has been incredible for our offense because they’re tough matchups. Not only can they run and not only can they catch, but they pass-protect too. They’re so well coached by [Patriots running backs coach] Ivan Fears, who’s such a great coach for our team and he always has them prepared.”
Some other highlights from Brady’s comments:
On his mother, Galynn, who has been battling cancer for 18 months, undergoing chemo and radiation, but was given the green light to travel to the game; Brady dedicated the win to her: “It was great…She’s been through a lot. Way harder than what I went through last night, way harder than what we went through as a team last night. My dad’s been there every step of the way. They set such a great example for me and you know, all families go through challenging time, but she has a lot of support and a lot of love and I was just happy last night to be able to celebrate with her…it was really great.”
(Brady became emotional every time the subject of his family came up last week, and even on Monday morning, as soon as he heard the question about his mother and her health, he nervously began drumming his fingers on the lectern, his voice catching in his throat as he began to answer.)
On Julian Edelman’s fourth-quarter catch: “That was a ridiculous play. We’ve had a few catches like that go against us [in past Super Bowls], so it was nice for one to go for us at a big moment. I still don’t know how he came up with it, but he did.”
On New England’s five Super Bowl wins all being decided in the closing moments: “They have all come down to the end, and that’s OK, as long as you win.”