Tracy White spent most of his career with the Green Bay Packers in obscurity.
He wasn't a household name when he played from the Packers from 2006 to 2008 and still isn't now that he plays with the New England Patriots.
But White is a grinder. A blue-collar, behind the scenes worker that's a bigger part of his team's success than the public might realize. His position is listed as linebacker, but his calling card is special teams.
And now he has an opportunity to earn his first Super Bowl ring with the Patriots on Sunday.
“This is my ninth year (in the league) and my first Super Bowl," White told reporters at Tuesday's Media Day, according to a transcript provided to NFL media. "Just being here is a great experience, and it’s what you play for your entire career.”
White came close to playing for a Super Bowl once before while wearing the green and gold. The year was 2007, and White was picked as a postseason special teams captain for the Packers, an honor voted upon by the players.
The Packers advanced all the way to the NFC Championship game, hosted at Lambeau Field, a game that went into overtime. Ironically, their dreams were dashed by the same team that beat the Packers in the playoffs in 2011, and the team White will face in the Super Bowl: the New York Giants.
This year's edition of the Big Game is a re-match of the 2007 Super Bowl in which the Giants went on to beat the previously undefeated Patriots, but this time the stakes are unlike those of four years ago.
“It’s a little different because the teams are built differently with different players," said White.
White joined the Packers in 2006, one of general manager Ted Thompson's few offseason free agent signings. The veteran linebacker went on to become one of the Packers' best special teams players in '06 and '07, accumulating 11 tackles each season.
Halfway through the 2008 season, White was released when the Packers were faced with a difficult decision. Rookie linebacker Danny Lansanah was on Green Bay's practice squad when he was being pursued by other teams to join their 53-man roster.
Rather than lose Lansanah, the Packers cut ties with White and signed the first-year player.
Since that time, the Packers' special teams languished from 2008 to 2010, ranking near the bottom of the NFL. Lansanah never played beyond 2008 with the Packers and is now out of the NFL. And White continues to make his living as a special teams kamikaze with a chance to earn that elusive ring just four days from now.
As far as mistakes Thompson has made as general manager of the Packers, the decision to part ways with White might be a minor one, but a mistake nonetheless.
White has persevered and now will be playing for football's ultimate prize. He says his teammates who have been there before have been preparing him.
“Expect anything, because anything can happen," said White on the advice he's received. "They’ve been guiding us through on what to expect and how to practice throughout the week to get ready for the game.”
And when it comes time for kickoff, White's going to soak it up.
“I’ve been playing for a while, and it’s hard to get to the Super Bowl," said White. "When I get in (the game), I’m going to take in all that I can.”
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