FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mike White went on the Jets’ reserve/COVID-19 list on Nov. 23 and stayed there for four weeks, finally coming off on Tuesday. But the former talk of the town after his breakout game at quarterback against Cincinnati on Oct. 31 didn’t have a bad bout with the disease.
"I wasn’t symptomatic," White said Friday after practice in his first public comments since before he was sent back to the bench in favor of Joe Flacco for the game against Miami on Nov. 21. "Maybe a stuffy nose in the beginning, but that’s about it. I’ve had head colds worse."
After that, he came down with the flu for a few days, too. Said White, "It's definitely been a long time since I practiced, but the past two weeks, I've been throwing on the side to the strength guys while I was still on the COVID list but back in the building."
But that’s all behind him now. The unvaccinated Flacco was placed on the COVID list on Thursday and is out at least 10 days. White is set to serve as Zach Wilson’s backup Sunday against Jacksonville at MetLife Stadium.
"It was frustrating, to say the least," White said of his downtime. " . . . I was in constant contact with our training staff and all that good stuff. I was just following protocols and going through the testing process and getting the certain amount of negative tests needed to come back and get ramped back up into practice.
"I’m happy to be back. It felt like an eternity. Hopefully I’ll never have to do that again."
Now that the 26-year-old quarterback is back, he’s hoping to stay for a while — as in years.
White, who was a fifth-round pick by Dallas out of Western Kentucky in 2018, will be a restricted free agent after the season. In his view, during the three promising games out of the four in which he replaced the injured Wilson, as well as behind the scenes, he proved he can help here for the long haul.
No matter the role.
"I’ve showed some good things on the field when I got my opps," White said. "Not only on the field, but just off the field in the day-to-day operations of it, helping Zach with whatever he needs and being a sounding board for him or [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur or anything of that nature. I really enjoy the guys here and the staff. I think we all work really well together, and I think we’ve got a good QB room.
"Hopefully I can be here for years to come."
Wilson suffered a knee injury in the 54-13 loss to New England in Week 7. White, in his first NFL regular-season appearance, threw for 202 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Then came the Cincinnati game.
He starred in the 34-31 win, going 37-for-45 for 405 yards and three touchdowns, although he was intercepted twice. He also made people wonder if he — and not the struggling Wilson — was the quarterback who could lead the Jets to a better tomorrow.
White then got off to a good start against Indianapolis, throwing for another TD before departing with an arm injury. He returned the following week and had a bad four-interception game in a 45-17 loss to Buffalo.
The bandwagon suddenly got less crowded.
Coach Robert Saleh started Flacco against the Dolphins. Then White tested positive and Wilson took back the keys.
"As a competitor, you want to go out there and redeem yourself after a game that you know wasn’t your best and you could’ve played better," White said about being replaced by Flacco. "So it was tough.
"But I kind of pride myself on being a team guy. As a quarterback, these things happen . . . You can’t pout. You can’t get mad or anything of that nature. Just come to work. Be a professional. Do your job. Be there for Joe. And be ready if your number gets called upon again."