Kevin White did nothing to you. He didn’t beat up your mother. He didn’t steal your birthright. He didn’t tape over your Warren Zevon: Live at the Capitol Theater bootleg. All he did was get selected seventh overall by the Chicago Bears because he was one of the most supremely gifted athletes in the 2015 NFL Draft.
And yet his failure to stay healthy during his short Bears tenure seems to have personally offended many of this team’s faithful fans. The one question I have been trying to wrap my head around is…why? Why do fans fixate on White in ways they don’t fixate on other players? Why do I receive unsolicited texts from folks inside Halas Hall with White status updates, like I’m waiting on news of a baby’s birth? Why is so much attention paid to a player at a position the Bears just invested millions of dollars and a high draft pick to upgrade?
White’s not that important. The Bears know that. Why don’t their fans?
A lot of this circles back to the insane attention paid to the draft itself, specifically the first round. We know so much about these kids by the time their names are called it’s borderline absurd. Months upon months of college tape study, classroom breakdowns, pro days, three-cones, four-cones, eleven-cones…etc. Every fan has an opinion of every selection. And every fan believes their opinion is correct. (This goes for basically everything in life, by the way.) Many will go to absurd lengths over a player’s career to support that initial opinion.
Kevin White was taken seventh. Eddie Goldman was taken 39th that same year. If those picks were reversed, nobody would give White a second thought because Goldman has had a first-rounder’s career. I understood fixating on first-round selections before the rookie wage scale because those picks could cripple a team financially for years if they busted. But now? Of course you want the first-round picks to be successful since that’s where a high percentage of the league’s best players are found. But outside of quarterback, which requires a multi-year commitment from the entire franchise, missing on a pick or two in this round just isn’t a big deal anymore. Especially if you have success later in the draft.