LenDale White says he is ready to take on anyone from Roger Craig to Jenny Craig when it comes to getting ready for the 2009 season.
White reported to the off-season program at 238 pounds, his lightest reporting weight as a member of the Tennessee Titans.
And though the club spent a draft pick on running back Javon Ringer to throw into the mix, White said he remains unfazed and completely dedicated to having his best professional season yet.
“This is for ESPN. This is for everybody. I don’t care if I was on San Diego’s team, New England, any team, you can go get anybody. You can go get Emmitt Smith. You can go get anyone, I will never run from competition,” White said. “I never have and I never will. You can ask Reggie Bush. You can ask Chris Johnson.
“Y’all go get anyone in America. I will never run from no competition. I don’t care who it is. Barry Sanders, the great. Deion Sanders, ‘Primetime’ if I was a cornerback.”
As for his weight, White looked much more tone and in shape than in previous years, and revealed that he weighed 261 pounds last October when he rumbled 80 yards for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’ll let y’all keep guessing how much exactly I weigh,” said White, who has indicated he would like to play at around 240 this season. “It’s just about trying to make my body look the way I want it to look. I always have been a big guy. They say I’m out of shape and all this and that, but I was 230 pounds as a senior in high school. I’ve been up to 265 before, too. I went 80 yards last year at 261.”
He admits that taking off the extra weight has helped him in not only the way he plays but the way he feels afterwards.
“I don’t really care if I have an ab or not. I know how much I weigh, and I know when I go out there and I run now, how my knees feel. I know how I feel when I wake up in the morning and everything like that. I feel amazing,” White said.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher is excited about White and the rest of the running backs, where there will be plenty of training camp competition.
“Every year, every single off-season, if you’re doing the right thing, you’re creating competition,” Fisher said. “And the running back position in particular is an important position for us and for everybody around the league. He reported to the off-season program significantly lighter than he has in previous years.”
Of course, the critics are quick to point out that White is entering the final year of his rookie contract, something that might be additional motivation for him to be slimmer and trimmer. He doesn’t deny the ramifications, but said it is not his primary motivation either.
“I’m pretty sure we all think about it. I’m sure y’all think about getting a raise. I want to be that guy. I want to get money. I don’t play this game for free,” White said. “I’d definitely like to be a high-paid guy. But my whole intention wasn’t to come in this year saying, ‘This is my contract year. I have to get better.’ I want to be a Tennessee Titan. This is where I want to be for the rest of my career. This is what I want to do.”
And he wants the perception of him to be a positive one.
“I’m not going to tell you I wouldn’t take a $40 million bonus. I’m not going to say that, but I’m also telling you that I’m doing this because I want to be great,” White said. “I want to … when I walk away from this game I want the kids that’s coming up to say, ‘LenDale White, I want to be like him.’”
White said one of his primary motivations is the costly fumble in Tennessee’s 13-10 playoff loss to the Baltimore last season.
“I’m beyond motivated. That’s the only play I think about. I feel like if I had never fumbled the ball, we would have kicked the field goal and we probably would have won,” White said. “I feel like I lost the game, and I told y’all that at the end of the last game against Baltimore and I’m telling you now.
“My goal in life is to win a Super Bowl. That’s my goal. I play this game to win a Super Bowl ring. The personal perks that come with it are awesome, but I want it to say ‘champions’ around here. I want us to have a ring. I want to be on that commercial on the NFL Network when they say, ‘We did it.’”