When he died in 2004, Reginald Howard “Reggie” White had crammed a lot into his 43 years.
White played for four professional football teams from 1984 to 2000, with the exception of 1999: first, the Memphis Showboats of the USFL for two seasons, then the Philadelphia Eagles for eight seasons, the Green Bay Packers for six, and his last season with the Carolina Panthers.
White was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1984 supplemental draft by the Memphis Showboats.
An All-American in college, the Tennessee-born defensive end carried 300 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame.
He opted to play for the Showboats in his home state following college, but the USFL only lasted two years. White compiled 23.5 sacks in his two seasons with the Showboats. Had he skipped the USFL and gone straight to the NFL from college, White would have almost certainly ended up besting Bruce Smith’s career record 200 sacks (White had 198 NFL sacks when he retired).
Reggie White’s list of accomplishments in the NFL is longer than an octopus tentacle: besides the 198 sacks he amassed, White forced 33 fumbles, picked off three passes, and scored two touchdowns.
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Also, he was a 13-time All-Pro, 13-time All Star, defensive player of the year multiple times, named to the virtual 75th anniversary team, as well as the all-decade teams for both the 1980s and the 1990s.
White’s jersey number (92) was retired by both the Eagles and the Packers, as well as his college, the University of Tennessee – all in 2005.
It probably goes without saying that White has been inducted into both the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame (not to mention the College Hall of Fame).
Most importantly, White won Super Bowl 31 with the Packers in 1997 (following the 1996 season). He played a major role in the outcome of that 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots with a game-ending sack.
The pairing of Reggie White, “the Minister of Defense,” and fellow Hall-of-Famer Brett “Country Time” Favre was a combination that was tough to beat.
White had signed as a free agent with the Packers in 1993 after eight phenomenal seasons with the Eagles. The addition of White, as well as the aforementioned Favre, was the one-two shot in the arm that helped mightily in propelling the Packers to return to their championship form.
The strong-as-an-ox White was calm and friendly off the field, but a dynamo on it, rag-dolling offensive linemen with his bull rush and “hump move.”
Reggie was a guy you wanted on your side. We miss him.