Where are they now? Jason White, former OU QBPosted: July 6, 2007
Life after football: White’s new life
Ex-QB busy with stores, charities and more in post football days
GO INTO THE Athlete’s Foot on 104th and South Western in Oklahoma City some weekend and you might get a rare treat: a personal shoe fitting from a Heisman Trophy winner.
“It’s pretty neat,” said Jason White, the one-time Oklahoma quarterback who shattered passing records and flew to New York City to pick up the 2003 Heisman.
“You get a kick out of when kids come in and they want shoes and you’re helping them. They’re just staring at you the whole time, like, ‘I can’t believe you put my shoes on.’ It’s been good for me.”
These days, White is co-owner of the shoe and apparel store, as well as co-owner of A Store Divided, another Oklahoma City retail sportswear shop specializing in Oklahoma and Oklahoma State gear. He’s also a marketing representative for a Norman-based firm — owned and operated by 1969 OU Heisman winner Steve Owens — that finances insurance premiums. He’s also busy traveling the state and hosting golf tournaments, raising money for various charities, including his own, the Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation.
“He’s got a tremendous work ethic. He’s so responsible,” Owens said. “I’ve been impressed with everything about him. I think truly he approaches business and his life outside football the same way he approached football. That’s why he was successful.”
Come September, a bronze statue of White will be unveiled alongside a bronze statue of Owens at OU’s Heisman Park, a courtyard just west of Memorial Stadium that commemorates the program’s four Heisman winners.
Once shy and sometimes even sullen with media and fans, White now stops to shake every hand, pose for every picture and sign every autograph — and does so with an appreciative smile. The kid from Tuttle, the son of a cement mason, the skinny quarterback who once hated the spotlight now seems comfortable with his own celebrity.
“I think I’m getting used to the fact that pretty much wherever I go, I’m going to run into people that may want an autograph or take a picture or just say hi,” White said. “I’ve kind of accepted that and gotten better with it.”
White, who turned 27 on June 19, got married last July. His wife, Tammy, gave birth to his second child, son Tandon, on Jan. 2 (he was heading back to Oklahoma from the Fiesta Bowl when she went into labor, but he arrived on time); his first child, daughter Tinley — immortalized during White’s Heisman acceptance speech — is now 4.
Catch Jason White at an Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive or at the Tulsa Raceway Park for Josh Heupel’s 14 Foundation, and he’s dressed casually in jeans or shorts, an oversized T-shirt and athletic shoes. Don’t bother checking for bling.
“Nope. I wear a ring, that’s it,” he said. “That’s because I have to.”
Meanwhile, many of those whom with he played — Jammal Brown, Mark Bradley, Mark Clayton, Davin Joseph, Adrian Peterson, etc. — are living the dream, making it big in the National Football League. White’s own NFL dream died three years ago. After going undrafted, his career ended because the unending pain in his surgically rebuilt knees kept him from practicing.
Nobody in college football worked harder than White to overcome strife and reach such heights. Yet, his feelings about the professional success and riches enjoyed by his ex-teammates are clear.
“I’m happy for them,” he said. “It does give me great pride, especially guys like Jammal and Mark. . . . Hopefully I had a positive influence on them down the line in college. Maybe they took something from me, the work ethic or something, and converted it to what they’re doing now. You play with those guys four years, you’re so close to each other, it’s kind of like family. You’re happy to see them do good in the NFL and move on.”