At No. 1 in our greatest Green Bay Packers free agents countdown is Reggie White.
This is part five of a five-part retrospective by Michael Seney and I, as we look back on the greatest free agent signings in Green Bay Packers history.
At No. 1 is Reggie White.
1. Reggie White, DE
The great Reggie White. The name itself invoked fear into the very souls of his opponents. His career and his life were both truly amazing.
Before Green Bay
White began his pro football career in the USFL when he was drafted by the Memphis Showboats in 1984. Over the next two seasons, he racked up 23.5 sacks, one safety and one forced fumble recovered for a touchdown.
After the USFL went under in 1985, White was signed by the Eagles to a one-year, $1.85 million deal. The Eagles were not sure what they were getting at the time, but that all changed.
Despite missing the first few games, White posted 13 sacks and earned NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. He spent the next eight seasons with Philly. In that time, he set and broke many defensive records and established himself as the most dominant player in the league.
In 121 games, White had 124 sacks. He was voted by ESPN SportsNation as the greatest player in Eagles’ franchise history. But his story continued in another shade of green…
In 1993, White became an unrestricted free agent. The fans held a huge rally in Philadelphia to try to convince White to stay. But he didn’t, instead signing a four-year, $17 million dollar deal with Green Bay.
That move put the Packers over the top as a power house team in the NFC. White’s 68.5 sacks made him the all-time sack leader in franchise history. (That record has been broken by Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Clay Matthews.)
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White was a leader not only on the defense, but the whole team. He was also an ordained minister, and was known by all on the field as the “Minister of Defense”. In the 1996 season, the Packers won Super Bowl 31 and White set a Super Bowl record with three sacks. The following year, he earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors and helped lead the Packers back to the Super Bowl.
White retired from football after that season, but in 2000, he came back to play for the Panthers. He played all 16 games and had 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He retired permanently after that.
Sadly, on Dec. 26, 2004, White passed away. He died of cardiac arrhythmia. He was only 43. All fans were saddened by this news greatly.
In 2005, the Eagles, the Packers, and the University of Tennessee retired number White’s No. 92 jersey. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Reggie White left a larger than life impact not only on the game of football, but on the fans and those who knew him.
He touched so many through his play, and his faith. Even those who are too young to have seen him play, he inspires us.
White is truly one of the greatest men to ever play in the NFL and the Green Bay Packers.