Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White opens up about his mental health struggles during ACL recovery

Buffalo Bills Tre'Davious White

On Tuesday, the Bills activated Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. White, who has been sidelined since tearing the ACL last Thanksgiving against New Orleans, had been practicing with the team for the last few weeks but will now be eligible for Sunday’s game at the Jets.

While the Bills and their fans have been anxiously awaiting their cornerback’s return to the field, White himself is trying to take his comeback one day at a time.

“It felt pretty good to be out there with my teammates,” he said after Wednesday’s practice. “It was a blessing. It’s been a long road. It’s just a blessing to be out there moving around.”

Head coach Sean McDermott has labeled White as day-to-day but didn’t rule out the cornerback seeing snaps against the Jets on Sunday. But, for now, the Bills and their cornerback are taking a long-view approach to his recovery.

“I had to basically build my body back up from the ground up,” White said. “It’s been a challenge and something as a football player and a guy who’s been where I’ve been in my career, it was a different challenge. It’s something that I woke up every day ready to kick its ass…So, when I come back and perform well, it’s not going to be a surprise to me… The people I care about and that care about me know the amount of work and effort, and blood, sweat, and tears I’ve put into this rehab, they know.”

However, White was open about just how hard the rehab process was on him, not just physically but mentally.

“I think anytime you go through an injury, it’s a mental thing,” he admitted. “The first few months were very hard, a very depressing time. Locked up in my base. Guys from the facility had to come to drag me out of there. The first few weeks, it was tough.”

For White, being laid up with an injury for so long felt like he was forced to live a different life for a time.

“It was my first time going through anything like that. Since I was 6 or 7 years old, it’s been football, basketball, and track, for the last 20 years. This is the first time I had to sit down. It gave me a different perspective. I’ve got more to give than knocking a pass down or intercepting a ball. It’s the first time in my life I sat down as Tre’Davious White.”

That led White to ask himself questions about what else he can bring besides his talents on the field.

“What more can I offer people? I started reading, getting into a different space. Learning about myself. What’s my purpose on Earth other than playing a football game? I’ve got more to offer people than football.”

While the recovery time wasn’t always easy, it did allow White to spend more time with his family and loved ones, which is something he has clung to.

“I was able to take my son to school, do things I wouldn’t be able to do if I was playing football in a normal way,” he said. “I was able to spend time with my little mans, my two little boys… My kids are the number one thing to me. It was hard for them to see me down. But they got me through it. Each and every day, seeing them, good day or bad day, walking through that door, I’m still going to be Dad and they’re still going to love on me.”

Even now that he’s one step closer to his return, White still keeps his recovery in perspective: “It’s been a trying time, but with the support of my teammates and the medical staff, I’ve been getting through it…It’s been a process of getting to where I am now. I’ve got a ways to go, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Perhaps that next step towards a full recovery will come on Sunday if he’s able to step foot onto the MetLife field against the Jets.

“It’s going to be great. I’m pretty sure my teammates will be more ecstatic than I am. I haven’t been in a game since Nov. 26, or 24 (it was Nov. 25). It’s been a while. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”

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Buffalo Bills Tre’Davious White (wikimedia commons)

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