In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the most terrifying defenses in the NFL.
Every position group boasted at least one All-Pro who played with a chip on his shoulder and their assembled ferocity resembled a junkyard dog hunting for a piece of meat.
The leader of this group was undoubtedly Reggie White.
“The Minister of Defense” tore through offensive lines and made opposing ball carriers cringe.
They called him the Minister of Defense. 🙏
EVERY Reggie White sack from the #NFLPlayoffs! (via @NFLThrowback) pic.twitter.com/JWQeIawkAI
— NFL (@NFL) January 7, 2019
Unfortunately, the Philadelphia offense couldn’t replicate the success of the defense and the Eagles never made it to the Super Bowl.
White then challenged a long-standing NFL rule and became a celebrated free agent.
As a member of the Green Bay Packers, White got his championship and established himself as the preeminent defensive lineman of his time.
Not long after retiring, White passed away suddenly due to cardiac and sleep disorders.
Although he is gone, White’s legacy as a player and person continues to be celebrated.
This is the story of Reggie White.
Reginald Howard White was born on December 19, 1961 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Heaven Birthday, Reggie White.
"The Minister of Defense"
DE-DT, 1985-98, 2000#Eagles #Packers CAR
• PFHOF (2006)
• Super Bowl XXXI Champion🏆
• 2x NFL DPOY
• 2x First-Team All-Decade
• NFL100 All-Time Team
• NFL 75th Anniv. Team
• 13 Pro Bowls
• 8x First-Team All-Pro pic.twitter.com/oTHdrFbalZ
— Kevin Gallagher (@KevG163) December 19, 2020
From an early age, White was clearly focused on what his future would look like.
When he was 12, he told his mother that he wanted to be two things in life: a football player and a minister.
White played football as a defensive lineman at Howard High School in Chattanooga for Coach Robert Pulliam, who had played collegiately at the University of Tennessee.
The football player part of White’s future plans seemed certain when he was named an All-American after a senior year where he made 140 combined tackles and 10 sacks.
Around the same time, the second part of White’s life plan came to fruition when he became an ordained minister at the age of 17.
By the time graduation loomed, White was the top high school prospect in the state of Tennessee.
Perhaps influenced by his coach’s alma mater, and the idea of staying close to home, White accepted an athletic scholarship to play for the Volunteers.
Immediate Impact as a Vol
White arrived in Knoxville for the 1980 season ready to show his new teammates and coaches what he could do.
As the Volunteers went 5-6, White played in 10 games and delivered 51 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
Additionally, White blocked a punt to set up a score in a win over Georgia Tech and he was given the Andy Spiva Award, given annually to the Vols’ most improved defensive player.
In 1981, White made a huge leap in his playing ability and was named to The Football News’ Sophomore All-American team.
His stats included three blocked extra points, a team-leading eight sacks and seven tackles for a loss, and 95 total tackles, which was good for second on the team.
92 Days ‘til Football Time in Tennessee!
Reggie White 1980-1983 pic.twitter.com/5fpGTrgs6P
— Nathaniel (@golfballvol) June 1, 2022
Tennessee improved to 8-4 under fifth-year coach Johnny Majors and won the Garden State Bowl 28-21 over Wisconsin.
White was named the most valuable defensive player in the bowl game after an eight tackle performance.
In 1982, White was slowed by an ankle injury yet was still able to get 47 tackles and a team-best seven sacks.
After Tennessee finished the year 6-5-1, White had eight tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble in the Vols’ loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Peach Bowl.
Award Winning Senior Year
As the 1983 season got underway, White was determined to improve on his junior year numbers.
His performance in 1982 did not meet his standards and White made it his mission to become one of the best defensive linemen in college for his final year.
Throughout the season, White showed what he was capable of.
In a game against New Mexico, he had two sacks and then a program-record four sacks against the Citadel.
White’s Citadel record stood for three decades.
The following week against LSU, White had 12 tackles and three sacks in the Vols’ 20-6 victory, which led to Southeast Lineman of the Week honors.
Please arrive early tomorrow to help us honor a very special member of our Tennessee Family, the late Reggie White, during pregame. Reggie’s widow, Sara – who attended ETSU – will be joined on the field by Reggie’s UT teammates Phil Stewart and Bruce Wilkerson. pic.twitter.com/ihANOBQCSA
— Phillip Fulmer (@phillipfulmer) September 7, 2018
Against the Alabama Crimson Tide, White sacked Tide quarterback Walter Lewis twice to help lead Tennessee to a 41-34 win.
When the regular season concluded, the Volunteers faced the University of Maryland in the Citrus Bowl.
During the contest, White sacked Terps quarterback Boomer Esiason in the second quarter and knocked him out of the game.
The loss of Esiason helped Tennessee to a 30-23 win, White’s second bowl victory as a Vol.
White’s pre-season goals were realized when he was awarded a consensus All-American nod along with being named SEC Player of the Year and a Lombardi Award finalist.
His career totals at Tennessee include 293 tackles (201 solo), 32 sacks, 19 tackles-for-loss, four fumble recoveries, and seven batted-down passes.
His 15 total sacks in 1983 remain a school record.
Furthermore, White’s 32 career sacks remained a program record until broken by Derek Barnett in 2016.
White becomes a Showboat
As a standout defensive lineman with no character issues, (his faith and humble lifestyle led to White’s Tennessee teammates giving him the moniker “The Minister of Defense”) White was in high demand by several NFL general managers.
At the same time, however, the United States Football League was enticing college players and NFL stars to join their ranks.
One of the USFL teams, the Memphis Showboats, was practically in White’s backyard and he liked the idea of staying home to play pro ball.
After some wheeling and dealing, Memphis signed White to a five-year, $4 million contract.
USFL Tourney 2020 Defensive Line Champion
Reggie White Memphis Showboats pic.twitter.com/NMbc2oS9Dx
— USFLFan (@VUSFL2018) May 7, 2020
He was raw and didn’t have a lot of pass rush moves, but White ended his rookie season with 12 sacks.
By the end of the year, teammates and opponents were in awe of White’s skill set.
“Reggie didn’t know how strong he was,” said Alan Reid, a Memphis running back. “And fast, too. The guy ran a 4.65 40, he could slam a basketball. Off the field, as mellow as can be. On the field, a beast.”
“Lawrence (Taylor) revolutionized the game, but Reggie changed offenses. Whatever they had planned was based upon his existence,” said linebacker Mike Whittington.
During his time in Memphis, White still found time to preach the gospel on and off the field.
In a game against the Birmingham Stallions, the Stallion’s center made a cut block on White.
White let the player know that wasn’t appropriate and the Birmingham player shot back with an expletive.
On the next play, White purposely lined up over the center and asked his opponent about Jesus.
White said, “Hey, Tom, you ever meet Jesus?”
When the ball was snapped, White gave his man a little payback.
“Reggie picked that guy up where only his toes were touching the ground,” said Sam Clancy, a Memphis lineman. “He pushed him back 10 yards and slammed him into (quarterback) Cliff Stoudt for the sack. Nobody could believe it.”
White becomes an Eagle
In 1985, White made 11.5 sacks for the Showboats and was named first-team All-USFL.
Reggie White sacks Bobby Herbert during a 1985 Memphis-Oakland USFL game: pic.twitter.com/8ZLyG6Tt
— SI Vault (@si_vault) January 11, 2013
He then signed a $1.65 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles when the USFL folded.
Initially, Eagles owner Norm Braman asked then coach Marion Campbell whether Campbell thought White would be worth a big contract.
“Whatever it costs you, Mr. Braman, it’ll be worth it. He was the best player coming out of college and he’s still the best,” said Campbell.
Braman then paid the remaining amount of White’s Memphis contract before signing him to his new Eagles contract.
The Minister of Defense was headed to Philadelphia.
Rookie of the Year
Because his second season with the Showboats ended in early fall of 1985, White did not join the Eagles until Week 4.
That week, Philadelphia was at home taking on Coach Bill Parcells and the Giants.
White was popular in the USFL but relatively unknown in the NFL.
That wouldn’t last long.
By the end of the game, New York quarterback Phil Simms knew exactly who White was after he was dropped by White 2.5 times.
Reggie White in a Eagles beauty👍@PhilHecken #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/TnnwAaJkfy
— Goat Jerseys (@GoatJerseys) May 8, 2019
White made 10 more tackles that day and the crowd at the Vet began chanting his name.
“We were all taken aback by just how dominant Reggie was,” said John Spagnola, a tight end on that Eagles team. “We had heard his name and read good things about him, but most of us took a wait-and-see attitude. Once he stepped on the field, though, it was clear he was something special.”
Unfortunately, the Philly offense couldn’t get anything going and the Eagles would lose 16-10 in overtime.
Nevertheless, Reggie White was now a known commodity throughout the league.
“I had never seen anyone that big and that strong who could move that fast,” said Herman Edwards, who was playing cornerback that season. “He was so explosive. He drove (blockers) back like they were on roller skates.”
As the Eagles ended the season 7-9, White collected 13 total sacks along with 100 combined tackles and was named NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Buddy Ryan Arrives
During the offseason after White’s rookie year, Braman fired Campbell and replaced him with Buddy Ryan.
Ryan was an outgoing coach who thrived on defensive play.
Buddy Ryan as the Double Knit Daddy, year one, 1986. @Ol_TimeFootball @NFL_Journal @PHLEaglesNation @FootballHistory @80sFootballCard @RetiredNFLers @ProFootballHOF pic.twitter.com/ONNUsmj7O0
— Eagles Over the Years (@EaglesOrtheYear) June 2, 2022
He had created the famed “46 defense” while the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears and helped that franchise win Super Bowl XX in 1985.
Ryan was so popular with his Bears players, that both he and head coach Mike Ditka were carried off the field after the Super Bowl victory.
It didn’t take him long to mold the Eagles defense in his image when he arrived in Philly.
With White already entrenched at one defensive end spot, Ryan drafted defensive end Clyde Simmons of Western Carolina University in the ninth round of the 1986 draft.
He also grabbed UTEP linebacker Seth Joyner in the eighth round of the draft.
Then, Ryan let loose the talents of veteran safeties Andre Waters and Wes Hopkins on opposing receivers.
Although the defense was starting to come together, the offense was still a work in progress and the Eagles went 5-10-1 in 1986.
White sacked opposing quarterbacks 18 times and added 98 total tackles.
He was then voted to the first of 13 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro for the first of eight times.
NFL Sack Leader
In the 1987 NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman Jerome Brown with their first pick in the draft.
Jerome Brown and Reggie White at Philadelphia Eagles practice pic.twitter.com/j5Vpi4H0Ce
— SportsPaper (@SportsPaperInfo) January 28, 2017
They also grabbed University of Arizona linebacker Byron Evans in the fourth round while adding former Houston Oilers defensive tackle Mike Golic.
The team improved slightly, going 7-9 while White took off like a rocket.
That year, he led the NFL in sacks with 21, had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and added 76 combined tackles.
White was then named NFL Defensive Player of the Year and NFC Defensive Player of the Year for his troubles.
1988 was more of the same as White once again led the league in sacks with 18 and had 133 total tackles.
A Eagles legend! Reggie White #Eagles #throwbackthursday pic.twitter.com/eG7EC17P7z
— Sports Are Philly (@SportsArePhilly) April 10, 2014
The Eagles offense began to soar with second-year quarterback Randall Cunningham leading the offense to a 10-6 record.
On defense, the team added cornerback Eric Allen from Arizona State University in the second round of the 1988 draft.
The ‘88 Eagles faced Ryan’s former team, the Bears, in the Divisional round and lost 20-12.
In 1989, the Eagles defense jumped from 14th in the league in 1988 to fifth, surrendering only 274 total points.
Even though the offense went from fifth to 13th in the span of a year, Philadelphia still posted an 11-5 record in 1989.
White had 11 sacks and 123 total tackles but couldn’t help the Eagles get past the LA Rams in the 1989 Wild Card playoffs.
In 1990, the offense improved to third in the league while the defense dipped to 12th as Philly took a 10-6 record into the playoffs.
White had 14 sacks and his first interception in the regular season as an Eagle.
Was a great man, and a great football player. RIP Reggie White! #Eagles pic.twitter.com/NypXkL84Q1
— Sports Are Philly (@SportsArePhilly) July 8, 2014
Then, for the third year in a row, the Eagles failed to advance past the first round of the post season when they fell to the Washington Redskins in the Wild Card round.
With their loss to Washington, Ryan was fired after the season.
White and the Eagles Defense Set the Tone
In 1991, new head coach Rich Kotite joined the Eagles. That season, he led the franchise to a 10-6 record but missed the playoffs.
White and the fifth-ranked defense played well with the Minister of Defense getting 100 tackles, 15 sacks, and one interception.
92 days until 2022 #NFL season opener (#Bills at #Rams). And primary # of @ProFootballHOF DE Reggie White: 198 sacks w/#Eagles, #Packers, #Panthers, 13-time Pro Bowler, 8-time All-Pro, #NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 & 1998@JulesForTheBlue @PfgVibe #VibeHearted pic.twitter.com/jG9GmCMj6t
— Russell S. Baxter (@BaxFootballGuru) June 8, 2022
He also set a record for most passes deflected in a single season by a defensive lineman with 13.
J.J. Watt would break the record decades later.
White’s incredible year culminated by being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year for a second time.
Sadly, before the 1992 season began, White’s linemate, Jerome Brown, was tragically killed in an automobile accident that also claimed the life of Brown’s nephew.
The loss was devastating to White (who was a close friend of Brown’s), his teammates, and the community as Brown was an outgoing personality who rallied those around him.
The 1992 Eagles defense played inspired ball that year and ranked sixth in the NFL while Cunningham and the offense ranked fifth.
This time, the success of both squads helped lead Philly to an 11-5 record and the team’s first playoff victory in 12 years when they dispatched New Orleans 36-20 in the Wild Card round.
The following week, the Dallas Cowboys ended the Eagles’ season with a resounding 30-11 win.
Reggie White trending. Don't know why, but man I miss him. And that's Aikman on the ground 😬#FlyEaglesFly #Philadelphia #nfceast #NFL pic.twitter.com/k9U8nO5ZAM
— Kevin (@HomeCareGurus) June 8, 2022
Although White played well in Philly, and had several good friends on the team, he wanted something different.
In eight seasons with the Eagles, he had 124 sacks in 121 games, becoming the franchise’s all-time sack leader.
However, Philadelphia perpetually struggled to advance in the playoffs and White didn’t want to end his career without a title.
White Challenges the NFL
At the time, the NFL heavily restricted player movement and free agency wasn’t in place like it is today.
Players were not allowed to sign with the highest bidder and the league’s “Plan B” system kept the status quo.
In effect, Plan B restricted the movement of veteran players by “protecting” or keeping them from seeking their value with other organizations.
Many of the league’s veterans balked at the inability to sign with the team of their choice and decided to do something about it.
Along with New Orleans Saints quarterback Mike Buck and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Hardy Nickerson, White joined the cause and filed a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NFL to get true free agency instituted.
All three players hoped that the courts would allow them to meet and negotiate with teams when their contracts expired on February 1, 1993.
25 Years Ago Today: The Reggie White Free Agency Sports Illustrated cover pic.twitter.com/4cyTZx2Dj6
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 15, 2018
Eventually, the two sides settled and White, as well as the other players in the suit, were permitted to become free agents.
With that, the maneuvering for White’s services became front page news.
“God” Leads White to Green Bay
For a period of time, the Green Bay Packers were the toast of the NFL.
Between 1929 and 1944, the franchise won six championships and lost another.
Then, after a long dry spell, Vince Lombardi was hired in 1959.
Before he stepped down after the 1967 season, Lombardi’s squads had won three NFL championships, lost one, and won the first two Super Bowls in league history.
After Lombardi left, it was slim pickings for playoff berths.
That began to change when Mike Holmgren was named the head coach in 1992.
Before the ‘92 season began, Green Bay general manager Ron Wolf traded for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Brett Favre.
Known for chasing talent, it was Ron Wolf who lured in all-time greats Brett Favre & Reggie White#Packers HOF bio: https://t.co/GlSgSB4UHw pic.twitter.com/h17eqmUN9M
— Packers Hall of Fame (@PackersHOF) June 26, 2017
In the third week of the season, Favre replaced Packers starter Don Majkowski and led the team to a win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Favre remained the starter for the rest of the year and a legend was born.
Under the direction of Holmgren, Favre used his gunslinger mentality to guide the franchise to a 9-7 season, just missing the playoffs.
At that moment, the organization knew it had something.
Favre and Holmgren were the beginning of something great and if the Packers could get a few more key pieces, they just might return to the top.
That’s where Reggie White came in.
When his free agency was granted, there were no shortage of teams who reached out to White and enticed him with big money offers.
Green Bay was one of those teams, but to say that Wisconsin wasn’t exactly a destination location is putting it mildly.
Furthermore, the town itself did not have much in the way of an African-American presence and black players tended to shy away from playing for the Packers.
In other words, the city of Green Bay had an identity issue.
“We had black guys on the team, but it was still the whitest community in the NFL,” said former Packers defensive line coach Greg Blache. “If you were black in Green Bay, they just thought you were a Packer.”
Despite their storied history, by the 1990s, Green Bay was also considered the place where careers died.
“Among players, Green Bay was depicted as some Russian place where you go and no one ever hears from you,” said former NFL tight end Keith Jackson.
The Packers, however, had an ace up their sleeve by way of defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes.
Rhodes, an African-American, joined the Packers in ‘92 and talked to White constantly about how close the team was to becoming a world-beater.
“Ray Rhodes did a phenomenal job of talking to and recruiting Reggie. I think it blew everybody’s mind that he would come to Green Bay. It set the tone. He was the premier guy, and it turned the tables to where guys didn’t just run to the big market,” said Blache.
Holmgren also did his part to entice White to Green Bay.
Today in 1993: The Packers and Reggie White agree to terms on a four-year, $17 million deal. In six seasons in Green Bay, White helped lead the Packers to six-straight playoff berths, three NFC Central titles, two NFC titles and a win in Super Bowl XXXI. pic.twitter.com/m3lOkCETbv
— Packers History (@HistoricPackers) April 6, 2020
After an interview where the Minister of Defense stated that he would listen to God in where he would choose to play, Holmgren called White with his sales pitch.
“Reggie,” Holmgren said. “This is God. Come to Green Bay.”
Between Rhodes, Holmgren, and several Packers players, White finally chose Green Bay to call his next home and signed a four-year deal worth $17 million.
“People will say I went for the money, and the money does have something to do with it. But it gives me the opportunity to build businesses, create housing and create opportunities for the people of the inner city. I want to do that all over the country,” said White.
The signing stunned the football world and numerous football pundits believed White had made a huge mistake.
Ultimately, he would have the last laugh.
If You Build it, They Will Come
White’s addition to the Packers was a boon for the team.
Once the rest of the league saw that he had signed with Green Bay, the NFL’s smallest market would become the place to be.
#FBF to when #VFL Reggie White arrived at @Packers camp. 🚴🏾 #Tradition #Packers #Vols pic.twitter.com/EANjNkHgnp
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) July 31, 2015
In 1993, White’s first year with the club, the team went 9-7 again, but this time went to the playoffs for the first time since 1982.
The Packers beat Detroit in the Wild Card round before falling to Dallas in the Divisional Round.
White proved to be a good pick-up when he started all 16 games and finished with 79 tackles and 13 sacks.
Green Bay then went 9-7 for the third year in a row in 1994 and advanced to the Divisional round before losing to the Cowboys again.
In 1995, Favre was a media darling and delivered on the field, leading the franchise to an 11-5 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game.
The feisty quarterback from Mississippi would win the first of three consecutive league MVP awards that season.
During the NFC title game, Green Bay lost for the third year in a row to the Cowboys, who would advance to win Super Bowl XXX.
.@Vikings receiver Cris Carter and @packers defensive end Reggie White share a moment in prayer at the Packers bench after their game in which White suffered a sprained knee and had to leave the game in the fourth quarter.
(Nov. 5, 1995) (AP Photo/Jim Mone) #GBvsMIN @SNFonNBC pic.twitter.com/QIcUGWtbJY
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) November 26, 2018
By then, the Packers had added a number of high-value free agents that helped them edge closer and closer to their goal.
Former Falcons center Jamie Dukes played for Green Bay in 1994 and Keith Jackson, who had compared Green Bay to Russia, joined the team in 1995.
“There is no question, had Reggie not gone to Green Bay to make Green Bay cool, that wouldn’t have happened,” said Dukes, who retired in 1995. “Prior to that, Green Bay wasn’t on the menu of places you wanted to go.”
The 1996 Green Bay Packers were a team of destiny.
They shot out of the gate to win six of their first seven games, then won seven of their final nine to end the year 13-3.
In November, the team signed former Jacksonville receiver Andre “Bad Moon” Rison to a contract in order to fill a receiver room depleted by injuries.
The former malcontent seemed to change his ways, especially surrounded by such leaders as White and Sean Jones, another high-profile free agent signed in 1994.
“Dre was about winning,” Jones said, “but he was also about the swag, the pomp and circumstance. It took him a minute to embrace the culture and really believe. You have to buy into the pattern and the routine, and he did that. The guy ended up being one of the best teammates.”
By season’s end, White had 8.5 sacks to go along with 39 tackles and an interception.
In the Divisional Playoffs, the Packers dismantled the 49ers 35-14 before taking out the surprising Carolina Panthers 30-13 in the NFC Championship Game.
22 years ago today. Brett Favre and Reggie White led the Packers to an NFC Championship win over the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Up to that point it was the greatest moment of my life as a Packers fan. pic.twitter.com/090MvWP3Su
— Kyle Cousineau (@KCousineau09) January 12, 2019
Then, it was on to Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots and quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
After a first-quarter that had New England leading 14-10, Green Bay exploded in the second quarter to take a 27-14 lead at halftime.
Both teams would score one touchdown during the remainder of the game as the Packers took home their first Super Bowl since 1967.
During the contest, White hounded Bledsoe relentlessly, sacking him three times including one to end the game.
21 years ago today, Reggie White was way too strong. #Packers pic.twitter.com/GmR593MLpC
— The Power Sweep (@ThePowerSweep) January 26, 2018
The mark set a single-game record for the Super Bowl.
Desmond Howard, the former Heisman Trophy winner and free-agent signee in 1996, was named the MVP of the game.
Playing primarily on special teams, Howard gained a total of 154 kickoff return yards, and also recorded a then-Super Bowl record 90 punt return yards, thus tying the then-Super Bowl records of total return yards (244) and combined net yards gained (244).
Coming Up Short for a Repeat
A season after their championship goal was met, it looked like Green Bay would win it all again in 1997.
The franchise went 13-3 for the second year in a row and took down Tampa Bay and San Francisco in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
In Super Bowl XXXII, the Packers faced John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
At halftime, the Broncos led 17-14 and 24-17 after three quarters.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Denver led 31-24 with only minutes remaining.
The Packers were driving for the tying score when a Favre pass intended for tight end Mark Chmura on 4th down was batted away by Broncos linebacker John Mobley.
Thus ended the year for Green Bay and White, who totaled 11 sacks and 46 tackles for the season.
White Proves he can Still Bring It
1998 was White’s 14th year in the NFL.
At a time when most NFL players are retired or their careers are winding down, White proved he was still a force to be reckoned with.
As the Packers went 11-5 and lost to the 49ers in the Wild Card round, White accumulated 16 sacks, 46 tackles, and four forced fumbles.
The great Reggie White @packers @NFL_Journal @NFL @ProFootballHOF @Ol_TimeFootball pic.twitter.com/oHOgKuInu4
— NFL Classic! (@79_nfl) April 2, 2020
For the second time in his career, White was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
He was then voted to his 13th Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro for the eighth time.
Sitting at the pinnacle, White stunned Packers fans and the football universe when he decided to hang up his cleats after the season.
Not Quite Done Yet
After sitting out the 1999 season, White believed he had a little more gas in the tank and signed a five-year, $20 million contract with the Carolina Panthers in July of 2000.
“We look forward to having Reggie White on our football team,” Panthers coach George Seifert said after practice today. “He brings a special talent and special mindset that we believe will help in our development as a team.”
That season, Carolina finished with a 7-9 record and White contributed 16 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection.
A colleague just passed along this slice of history from 2000 — Panthers legend Reggie White making his Spartanburg debut.
A lot to unpack in this one, including the haircut on @MikeCranston1. pic.twitter.com/yNa5Raa9M7
— Darin Gantt (@daringantt) June 17, 2021
Although he had four years remaining on his deal, White retired for good once the season concluded.
In 15 seasons, White had 1,111 total tackles, 198 sacks, three interceptions, 33 forced fumbles, and 20 fumble recoveries including two for touchdowns.
He was a Super Bowl champion, 13-time Pro Bowler, eight-time first-team All-Pro, five-time second-team All-Pro, two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, three-time NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and two-time NFL sacks leader.
White would be named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team, 1990s All-Decade Team, 75th Anniversary and 100th Anniversary Teams.
Both the Eagles and Packers have placed White in their Halls of Fame and his number 92 has been retired by both organizations.
When he retired, White led the NFL all-time in sacks and is now second behind Bruce Smith.
Factoring in his time with the Memphis Showboats, White has a total of 221.5 sacks, making him the all-time sacks leader in professional football.
Life After Football and Sudden Passing
Before, during, and after football, White was involved in Christian ministry.
He found himself in hot water after an ABC 20/20 interview in which he made comments openly opposing gay and lesbian lifestyles.
White then appeared in a newspaper ad campaign where he tried to convince gays and lesbians that they could “cease” their homosexuality.
CBS withdrew a five-year, $6 million deal to be part of The NFL Today show due to White’s claims of homosexuality being a sin.
Then, early in the morning of December 26, 2004, White was rushed to a nearby hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina where he was pronounced dead.
The news sent shock waves throughout the country as White was such a prominent figure and only 43 years old.
.@JeffKerrCBS on Reggie White #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/HBCWgWW5Ck
— JAKIB Sports (@JAKIBSports) June 8, 2022
It was later revealed that he had suffered from a cardiac arrhythmia that doctors said was likely caused by cardiac and pulmonary sarcoidosis and sleep apnea.
Following White’s passing, his wife, Sara, created the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research and Education Foundation to help those dealing with sleep disorders.
In 2006, White was posthumously voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This followed his vote into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
White has since been voted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Despite his untimely passing, White’s legacy as one of the best defensive lineman in NFL history is secure.
“The thing that I know, and everyone else knows, is that no one can ever take my accomplishments away,” reads White’s Hall of Fame bio. “My goal as a football player was to be the best to ever play my position. I believe I’ve reached my goal.”
Leave a Reply