View Full Version : White’s Happy Homecoming

Denver Native (Carol)
08-30-2010, 01:30 PM

DENVER – On third-and-goal in the first quarter Sunday night, there wasn’t a hole to run through. But the beauty of an effective goal-line back like LenDale White is that he doesn’t need one.

Seven Steelers defenders converged between the hashmarks around and in front of the goal line, while seven Broncos blockers pushed back, a scrum of humanity only distinguishable by the colors of helmets and shirts. There was no room for White to roam; he could only burrow.

But this is what he does best.

Most of White’s 24 career touchdowns have come in this fashion — not so much finding a path as making one on his own. All the blockers have to do is provide enough forward momentum to give him the split seconds he needs to find the soft spot and lunge at it.

This is neither dynamic nor spectacular. But it is effective, and given the Broncos’ struggles in short yardage last season, it is exactly what they need, and why White could find himself in a prominent power-running role once his four-week regular-season suspension ends.

And while White has scored this kind of touchdown before, he’d never done it in orange and blue, never in two previous NFL games in his hometown stadium, and never in front of his old high-school coach, Broncos broadcaster Dave Logan, who called the touchdown on the team’s radio network.

“He’s probably my favorite guy all time from Denver,” said White of his coach at Chatfield High School.

BETWEEN THE CHEERS for White’s score and the ones that greeted him when he was introduced with the starting offense prior to kickoff, it seemed as though the hometown fans were almost as happy to have him back as he was to play for them.

Key word: almost. It would be impossible for even the most electric of crowds to match the feelings that pulsed through White on Sunday night.

“There’s so many emotions going through me right now – I don’t know if I want to smile or cry, whatever it is,” White said. “This is real and Im happy to be home in Denver.”

His only regret was that his beloved grandmother couldn’t be around to watch. She saw him play for the Tennessee Titans at Invesco Field in 2007 before she died; White set her up with a luxury box for that Monday night game. But it was not the finest of outings for the runner; he fumbled and didn’t score as the Titans lost.

This game was different. White’s per-carry average wasn’t notable, but given the Broncos’ first-team struggles on the ground this summer, his 10-yard run and touchdown were two accomplishments the first unit hadn’t experienced this summer.

Thus, it was a night that exceeded his two previous trips to Denver. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as White attempts to put his career back together following a frustrating 2009 season, a short, ill-fated stint with Seattle and a suspension that he will serve in September.

If White can cultivate a career revival with the Broncos — which in turn could also revive the team’s short-yardage ground game — Sunday will be remembered as the night the seeds were planted.

This could be a perfectly symbiotic relationship. For now, it was just one night, one preseason game … but one White knows his No. 1 fan would have savored.

“If she was still alive, it would be crazy what she’d be doing right now,” he said. “I’m so happy to be on the field with a team that wants me — and to be playing football.”