Before Patrick White became the Miami Dolphins second string quarterback in 2009, he lead the West Virginia Mountaineers to 41 wins between 2005 and 2008. Included in those 41 wins were BCS bowl wins against the University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia. His herculean like efforts on the gridiron made him seem nearly invincible at times. He was a football icon in West Virginia and it was well deserved.
Two Sundays ago the Miami Dolphins faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in both team's final game of the 2009 season. Both needed this game to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Steelers were up 17-10 at the beginning of the second half. As television coverage resumed, it was announced that the Dolphins starting quarterback, Chad Henne, was being removed from the game due to an eye injury... enter Patrick White.
I thought to myself, "Who do I cheer for, Pat or the Steelers?" It became clear the first time Pat ran for a first down. I jumped up and threw my hands in the air without even thinking about it. I was rooting for the Dolphins over my very own Pittsburgh Steelers. I couldn't help it. Pat White meant that much to my sports world.
Then it happened... third and nine from the Dolphins own 25 or so yard-line. Pat grabs the snap and takes the ball around the left side and towards the sideline. Pat gets tripped and dives toward the first down marker. As he falls forward, Ike Taylor, a Steeler defensive back also dives head first to prevent Pat from picking up the first down. Their helmets crack as the two collide. Pat White didn't move and it was brutally apparent that he was seriously hurt.
I was stunned. I remember saying to my wife, "No! No! No!" Her phone immediately started ringing. My phone received numerous texts from friends. Pat laid on the ground for fifteen minutes. During that time I checked Facebook and Twitter and they were blowing up, all messages about the injured Pat White. That's when I realized just how much this guy meant to me and the rest of West Virginia. As he's been quoted as saying, "Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer." At that moment no truer words could be spoken.
Pat eventually came to and he was taken off the field on a stretcher, a sight that was extremely difficult to see. As I watched this closely, I noticed Pat was smiling. I don't know if he was delirious, or if the dude's always that whacky, but it certainly made me feel a lot better about his condition. I even heard the next day that while he was laying on the ground being examined by doctors and trainers, he told someone to tell his replacement about a quirk he noticed in the Steeler defense.
Pat pulled Mountaineer Nation together that Sunday. It wasn't the way we'd all hoped, but he did it anyway. He's always had a knack for that kind of thing. Whether it's against Pitt, Syracuse, South Florida or the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pat White will always be a Mountaineer.
Yeah, Pat White makes me that corny.
And for good measure, here's a couple of Pat White highlights: