It's terrible news for a rookie hoping to make a splash and for a team in transition hoping for a good start to the season.
But the good news is that he’s already ahead of schedule in mastering the ancient NFL art of lying about his injuries.
Good for you, Kevin. Remember, your team will always have your back, even when they don’t owe you anymore guaranteed money and you can be easily discarded.
On Friday, White, the seventh pick of the draft, talked to a couple of reporters who stalked him to a promotional event to get a rare audience with the first-round draft pick.
White told reporters the shin injury wasn’t a stress fracture -- he was “adamant” about this, according to the Chicago Tribune -- and “the game plan for me is to play as soon as possible,” he said, according to the Tribune. A Sun-Times reporter tweeted that White said, “If it was up to me, I would have been on the field.”
So of course, on Saturday, Bears general manager Ryan Pace called a morning press conference to reveal White is will be having surgery on a stress fracture in his left shin and is out for at least the first six weeks of the season, maybe until Week 11. Maybe the entire season.
Yes, a stress fracture that was diagnosed months ago and never revealed. A stress fracture the Bears thought would heal with rest.
“Later, part of OTAs we all noticed it on the same day, ‘Hey, he’s limping.’ And as we looked into it further, there’s a small stress fracture down there,” Pace told reporters. “When we found that, it’s like sometimes these things heal on their own. A lot of times they do. So that was our hope and that was our plan and unfortunately this is where we’re at now.”
Where they’re at now is White will have surgery and begin the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list -- which means he has to miss the first six weeks. He can stay on PUP until Week 11, and if he’s not healthy enough then, he’s done.
Woof. Don’t worry, though, Jay Cutler has built his hallowed career by making up for less-talented receivers with his moxie.
Not that White was expected to be a Pro Bowler his first year, but he was drafted, in part, to make up for the loss of Brandon Marshall and pair up with Alshon Jeffery, who, by the way, is out with a calf injury. Don’t worry, though, the Bears said it’s not serious, which probably means he’ll have to retire.
The Bears had been obfuscating the truth on White’s injury all training camp, not very well I might add, culminating in White’s first bald-faced lies to the media Friday.
He was obviously doing what he thought was right. It’s Pace’s and head coach John Fox’s job to break this kind of story. Credit them for not just leaking it to a national reporter. Gold stars for you guys.
“I think, me personally, we tell you the body part and that's all we have to tell you,” Fox told reporters in Bourbonnais. “We're not doctors and stick to that.”
OK. But still, why lie?
“I don't know,” Fox said. “You guys figure that out. I just know that, by league, we're required to give you a body part, unless it's a quarterback or kicker, then we don't even have to tell you which side. I've been doing it for 14 years now, that's the way we do it.”
What a charmer.
No one, even me, cares about players and coaches lying to the media. If you’ve been in this business for more than five minutes, you don’t believe 90 percent of what you hear in press conferences anyway. That’s why every good story is stocked with anonymous quotes, because very few people in professional sports want to be associated with telling the truth. Their truth, sure. The truth, no way.
Sometimes it makes you wonder what these executives and coaches actually think they do. Yes, football is a billion-dollar business, but the secrets they keep aren’t military grade.
What was the harm in telling reporters as camp opened that White is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his shin? Were they afraid someone was going to kick him?
Because he hadn’t ran in months -- you know, because of the stress fracture in his leg -- White didn’t know how he would react when he started running this past week. Monday was fine, Tuesday he knew the injury was still there and that’s when he alerted his bosses.
“He looked pretty hopeful the first day running on grass but not so much the second day,” Fox said.
White, of course, just wants to play football. He’s a confident, talented young guy. I feel bad for him. He works his way into the league, trains hard, and he gets hurt in summer practice.
Telling his bosses he was still hurting months later wasn’t easy, he said.
“Probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in a little while,” White told reporters. “Kind of just throwing in the towel kind of thing. I just have to be honest, because if not, then I’ll hurt myself. And it wouldn’t be sure for my future, if that’s what it led to.”
Fox has raised the ire of local media with regressive policies limiting access to players during camp. Maybe he has a point. The less we know about this team, the better.
Bears fans aren’t dumb. They know this team isn’t going to be good. As a local sports talk show host told me at the Cubs game, his phones light up only for Cubs talk right now. Typically in mid-August, it’s all-Bears, all the time.
You can bet the Bears will have a major sports radio presence Monday.
The good news is we now know two hard truths going into the second preseason game: No. 1, you can’t trust this new regime to tell the truth on anything and No. 2, this season is going to be even worse than you thought.