LenDale White has a slimmer waistline, a new approach and a brand new nickname.
White, who reported to training camp at 228 pounds and says he has finally learned that he needs to be in shape, has rechristened himself as “Save the Last Dance.”
During OTAs in June, Chris Johnson announced the breakup of “Smash and Dash” by saying he wanted to be known as “Every Coach’s Dream.”
Now, White, who had 15 rushing touchdowns last year, explains his new moniker, which he unveiled in his first training camp interview on Saturday.
“Don’t call me LenDale anymore. Call me ‘Save the Last Dance.’ I dance every time I hit the end zone, and I want to save the last dance for the Super Bowl,” White explained. “So until I win a Super Bowl my nickname is ‘Save the Last Dance.’ That’s my new name: ‘Save the Last Dance’ White.”
As a means to that end, White said he is showing his commitment and more professional approach by losing the weight and staying at a weight he has not had since high school.
White, interestingly enough, was brutally honest about how he has dropped nearly 30 pounds of weight from a year ago. He has quit drinking alcohol.
“I didn’t really change my diet all this much. I was a big Patron [tequila] consumer. That’s what it was,” White said. “I was drinking a lot and I drank a lot of alcohol. I cut it out of my diet all the way. I’ve stopped drinking for six months, and the weight just started falling off. I’ve got to be honest. There is no diet tequila.
“It’s been since January. I might have had some wine for dinner, but as far as drinking is concerned, I’ve X’ed that out of my game plan and it’s helped a lot.”
Not only is the change in White’s body shape very noticeable, so is his improvement as a running back early in camp. He caught a pass as the checkdown option in team drills, shifted downfield toward the sideline and juked his way past All-Pro cornerback Cortland Finnegan, drawing cheers from the crowd on hand.
“It was a long time coming man. I finally came to camp in shape. There’s a tremendous difference and I feel it in my body,” White said. “I’m not 260 no more. I’m 230. All those runs that were four yards and now going to be eight or nine yards. It’s a big difference, and I can tell my the way I’m hitting the holes.”
Teammates and others have taken notice as well.
“Keith Bulluck told me I looked good and Jevon Kearse told me. Bud Adams came in here today and told me I looked like a new person,” White said.
Safety Michael Griffin said White now reminds him of the back he faced in the Rose Bowl in 2006, when Griffin played for Texas and White for Southern Cal.
“He’s faster and quicker and looking like his USC days when they were getting his best production out of him,” Griffin said.
Center Kevin Mawae, who at times has been hesitant to praise White in the past, likes what he is seeing thus far of the rededicated running back.
“I think it speaks volumes. Obviously there is some sort of commitment there. He’s running the ball well from what I’ve seen the last few days,” Mawae said. “I think everybody knows what he is capable of doing. Being a guy who have been in the league for such a long time, you know how good guys can be if they take care of themselves and put themselves to it.
"The guys who take care of themselves have the ability to have long careers, and he has the potential to do that, it’s just what he wants to get out of it. But he certainly has the makings of a great running back and a guy who could be in the league a long, long time. It’s just all up to him.”
White said he finally has figured that a professional approach is necessary to maximize potential.
“It took me three-and-a-half years. I’m glad Jeff [Fisher] stuck with me. I’m still a Tennessee Titan, and I hope I’m going to be here for a long time,” White said. “I’m going to do the best I can to bring the Tennessee Titans a Super Bowl this year. I don’t have any long-term goals. My long-term goals are to win now.”
As for personal goals, White says he wants no fumbles, especially like the critical one that occurred in the playoff loss to Baltimore last season. And he believes he and Chris Johnson can each rush for 1,000 yards this season.
“The fly guy is my guy. The thing between us is it’s friendly competition,” White said. “The thing is I love Chris Johnson. It might not be Smash and Dash, but it’s forever Chris Johnson and LenDale. As long as we’re here on the same team our competitive nature is going to bring the best out in us.”
If he reaches all his goals, there will be plenty of opportunities for White to not only dance the last dance, but many in between.