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On Wednesday, October 31st, many of us witnessed one of the greatest comeback stories of resilience and perseverance in sports history. After being drafted #1 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2009, winning Rookie of The Year, winning MVP in 2011 and becoming a superstar in the NBA, Derrick Rose proceeded to tear his ACL and his meniscus twice   while enduring a slew of other injuries over a four span. But despite all the adversity, Rose stayed afloat, bouncing around the league as a bench player. Yet, this past Wednesday, Rose managed to drop a career high 50 points in a win over the Jazz including a blocked three to seal the game for the Timberwolves.

As Derrick Rose walked off the court, the sports community shared the emotion Rose felt after his performance. The tears that streamed down Rose’s face are a testament to the journey that Rose has been through. All of the discouragement and failure, to now one of the best comeback stories we have ever seen. The magnitude of what Rose accomplished is beyond inspirational and motivating. As LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and tons of other stars in the sports community commented on Rose’s performance, it left everyone moved and inspired, to say the least. A large number of athletes who experience as many injuries and demoralization to their career as Derrick Rose did would quit and give up. Every time I saw an ESPN notification that read, “Derrick Rose out for season with injury,” or “Derrick Rose has been traded to….,” I would think to myself, he’s got to retire at this point, right? However, every time, I was wrong. Derrick refused to let his injuries represent himself as a player, and he now finds himself at the center of the sports world and an inspiration to all who were witnesses.

The Chicago Bears have a similar situation in wide receiver Kevin White. White has followed a similar path as Derrick Rose, and now has the ability to emulate Rose’s path and journey. The former #7 overall pick in 2015 has been plagued with injuries, similar to Rose’s career. White missed his whole rookie season due to shin splints, was placed on IR in week four of the 2016 season after fracturing his fibula, and fractured his shoulder scapula in week one of 2017, wiping out his 2017 campaign.

The word most people correlate with White at this point is bust, but White, and the Chicago Bears organization have not given up. In his first offseason and season where White has not been injured, he has shown flashes of why the Bears drafted him #7 overall in 2015. Against the Chiefs in this year’s preseason, White caught his first career touchdown on a double move that brought a Chiefs defender to the ground. But most recently, as time wound down in the fourth quarter at Soldier Field against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the daunting Patriots, the Bears relied on the injury hampered Kevin White to tie the game for the team. Not only did they call White’s number in a game or break situation, he came down with the ball in a crowd of four Patriots but was unable to push the pile into the end zone.

Although the Bears lost in heartbreaking fashion, that last play was the best thing I saw and my biggest takeaway of the week seven loss to the Patriots. Not only did the Bears have confidence in Kevin White to go catch that ball, he assured that confidence by showing that he can still go up and get it like he did at West Virginia. Just last week, we saw Kevin White on the receiving end of a 27 yard pass from Mitchell Trubisky that was negated due to a penalty, but the most important takeaway is that Kevin White’s talent is till there, and it’s his time to show his promise.

There are very few believers left in White. Most any article that mentions him is one that highlights the idea that he was a bust and a waste of a first round pick for the Bears. Yet, just months ago, those similar articles were seen being written about Derrick Rose. Analysts from Bleacher Report, CBSSN and ESPN would bash teams for carrying Rose on their roster claiming that he would be no help to any team. Very few wide receivers who have under 20 receptions in two years become a success, but people also said, very few players who have three catastrophic knee injuries end up dropping fifty points for the first time in their career AFTER the knee injuries.

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Photo: Getty

It’s evident that Kevin White has the mentality similar to that of Derrick Rose. Both players have showed resilience and perseverance, and at this point in their careers, they want to do whatever it takes to help their team win. You may not notice it, but Kevin White throws blocks more than catches the ball when he’s on the field, and he does it well. Through blocking and playing hard when he’s on the field, that’s White’s way of helping the team. Similarly, Derrick rose would get 10+ assists and only have six points when he came off the bench, but he was helping the team in his own way and doing whatever it takes to ultimately get his opportunity. Now that Rose has gotten his opportunity, he’s made the absolute most of it. We’ve seen the in-game flashes from Kevin White, we’ve seen his hard work and we’ve seen the confidence he still has instilled in himself.

At this point, just as Tom Thibodeau believed in Derrick Rose and gave him an opportunity, all White needs is for Matt Nagy to believe in him just a little more, and give him his opportunity. If he gets that opportunity, you could see Kevin White having a big 100 yard, two touchdown game, defying all odds, just the way Rose did. The commonality between the two situations is belief and confidence not only between the organization, but within the player themselves. Rose has managed to inspire a huge magnitude of people and I can guarantee Kevin White himself witnessed Rose’s performance and felt some type of inspiration. Now, it’s White’s turn to be that inspiration, and all he needs is an opportunity.


Photo: Sports Illustrated

 

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