Perseverance and Stylez

Stylez G. White is as funny as he is hard-working.
Stylez G. White is as funny as he is hard-working. /
Stylez G. White's NFL journey was a long one.
Stylez G. White's NFL journey was a long one. /

Stylez G. White is definitely a character, anyone who follows him on twitter, has listened to his radio show or even just knows about his name change could tell you as much. If you didn’t know the story behind the name, Stylez was born Gregory White before deciding in 2008 to change his name to Stylez G. in homage to the movie Teen Wolf. But beneath his seemingly unserious exterior is a player with tremendous drive, a guy who doesn’t get near the credit for making it to the NFL and finding success as he should. Stylez G. White certainly seems to enjoy his lot in life, but he worked his tail off getting there.

Last year Cameron Wake burst on the scene for the Miami Dolphins after dominating the CFL and being named its defensive MVP. As intriguing as that story was, Wake was hardly the first to transition from defensive MVP of another league to NFL pass-rusher, White did it first.

After completing a solid career at Minnesota where he tallied 132 tackles and 11 sacks in three seasons White waited to hear his name called in the draft. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until the 7th round, the 229th overall pick that the Houston Texans came calling.

Being a 7th round pick must be difficult, many players admit that by the last round of the draft they would prefer the freedom to sign as an un-drafted free agent and find the best opportunity for themselves. The odds of finding a great degree of success as a 7th rounder in the NFL aren’t high. Every year you get a few 7th rounders who quit before training camp even starts, by the time camp ends the waiver wire is littered with players from the tail-end of the draft. For a young player it can be daunting. Picked in the 7th round, then cut, many players never even get back on the horse after that.

Stylez G. White is many things but a quitter is certainly not one of them. White continued to pursue his NFL dreams, bouncing around to seven teams between 2002 and 2005, yet never even seeing the field. A lot of men would have called it a career, been happy to have made it that far and moved on to other endeavors.

After being let go by the Bears in 2005 White continued to look for chances to play football and took the opportunity to play for the Orlando Predators of the Arena League under Jay Gruden (brother of then Bucs head coach, Jon). In Orlando, things changed, after knocking the rust off in his first season in the AFL, White absolutely exploded for 15 sacks in his second year and was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. As their season ended, the Predators’ coach phoned his brother Jon and told him about White, heeding his younger brother’s advice, the Bucs extended White an invitation to training camp.

I'm pretty sure that's holding.
I'm pretty sure that's holding. /

In his second stint with the Bucs, White capitalized on his opportunities, winning a spot on the team first and then a regular role on the defensive line. In 2007, after five years of trials and tribulations Stylez White finally debuted in the NFL. In his first season (2007) he registered 8 sacks despite starting just two games. As of the end of the 2010 season he has played in 43 career games for Tampa Bay with seven starts, 132 tackles, 18.5 sacks, three passes defended, eight forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

But what’s remarkable isn’t the production so much as the journey. The Bucs are a team often labeled as having questionable character. Critics have no hesitation to point out mistakes made by players, coaches and front office personnel, but you never hear stories about guys like Stylez G. White. A true grinder who bounced around to seven teams and ended up making a two year stop in the Arena League before finally realizing his NFL dreams in Tampa.

Tell me that you don’t want a guy with that kind of drive playing beside you, sitting next to you in the locker room. Stylez G. White for all his personality and flair, is one of the hardest working guys in Tampa.

He’s also about to be a free agent.

I for one hope the Bucs extend him. Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers could learn a lot from a guy with that kind of drive. Things have always come easy to both of the Bucs rookie defensive ends, that won’t be the case in the NFL and it would be nice for both of them to learn how to work for everything they get from a player whose had to do it already.