The Bears drafted wide receiver Kevin White with the No. 7 overall pick in 2015, the year that multi-Pro-Bowl players Todd Gurley and Marcus Peters went later in the first round, and never got much out of him. White missed his entire rookie year due to injury and played just 14 games in four seasons.
It was a brutal experience for him, and the injuries that derailed his career continue to gnaw at him. In an extensive interview with NBC Sports, White lamented that he wasn’t able to be the player the Bears thought they drafted.
“I know how much work I put in, how much I care about the game and how I tried to do everything right. ... I did everything under the roof,” he said. “So I felt cheated, especially when you see other guys doing a whole bunch of crazy stuff [and stay healthy]. They don’t work half as hard … and they just kinda get the blessing of it. But I definitely felt cheated, gypped, because I did everything the right way.
“I can’t blame anyone for it. I can’t blame anyone for the injuries. It was a clean slate of injuries up until I got to the NFL.”
He also mentioned how much he appreciated general manager Ryan Pace and former coach John Fox, saying he and Fox are still friendly.
White had a staggering 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns at West Virginia in 2014, but managed just 25 catches, 285 yards and no touchdowns with the Bears.
The Cardinals and Lions gave him a shot last year, but he did not make the roster. White, who turns 28 next month, indicated he hopes to continue playing.
He believed his breakthrough was coming in 2018, but didn’t get a fair opportunity because of “politics.” White thought he dominated practices and was good enough to be a contributor that season, but played just nine games. He was in for 16 percent of the offensive snaps, got eight targets and had four catches for 92 yards.
He thought other players got preferential treatment because of their contracts — Allen Robinson signed a three-year, $42 million deal, and Taylor Gabriel got $26 million over four years that offseason — and felt the team disregarded how well he performed in practice.
The Bears went 12-4 that season, their best record since 2006, and Robinson and Gabriel finished first and third, respectively, in receiving yards.
“Business, business, business, business, business — business went wrong,” White said. “That year was the best football I played since I’d been there. In OTAs and camp, I’m not saying it was perfect every single day, but it was just stacking the days up how I stacked it. It was ridiculous. Then I got frustrated.”
From there, White admitted he “checked out” and would even “give the wrong answer on purpose” in practice because he felt shut out. The Bears had already declined his fifth-year option, and he became a free agent last March.