In the arts and in sports, the word epic is thrown around a lot. Admittedly, I’ve used it often enough, but I always try to use it when it applies, and when looking back at the extraordinary career of Reggie White, it most certainly applies.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, White had an extraordinary high school career with the Hustlin’ Tigers at Howard high school, recording 140 tackles…a whopping 88 of them solo!
He played his college ball at the University of Tennessee, recording yet even more incredible stats. Again, quite the impressive number of tackles…a staggering 293 and an impressive 201 of them solo!
Greatness he was certainly destined for and the being a minister would have to wait, at least for a little while. He ended up getting ordained as a Baptist minister while in University, his football career well under way.
It wouldn’t be the NFL that came calling first. His first foray into the pros would come in the first incarnation of the USFL.
More Articles About Reggie White:
The USFL, different from the current USFL league in that a different ownership is involved and a slight difference in the teams and order of the season is concerned, but that first and doomed incarnation ran essentially from 1982, having its first season starting the following year.
It would dissolve by the time 1986 came around…the hiatus lasting until just last year when the new incarnation of the USFL was unearthed.
It was back in 1984 that the Memphis Showboats would come calling, selecting the impressive Reggie White in what was known then as the 1984 USFL Territorial Draft.
He would play for the team for the duration of two seasons and it wouldn’t be long before he made it to what can be considered the zenith of a pro football career: the NFL.
In the NFL, he’d play for the Philadelphia Eagles (1985-1992), the Green Bay Packers (1993-1998) and the Carolina Panthers in 2000.
His entire career is and can be considered extremely special, but perhaps it is in his time with the Eagles and the Packers that he astonished many an NFL fan with his dedication, grit and power on the gridiron.
Some of his NFL accolades…
He was a Super Bowl champion, and yes, with the Green Bay Packers in 1996. He was a two-time NFL defensive player of the year, a 13-time Pro Bowler, a two-time NFL sacks leader…in 1987 and in 1988.
He is both a Philadelphia Eagles Hall-of-Famer and a Packers Hall-of-Famer, and the accolades do not stop there.
And of his power, he was essentially not capable of being stopped. Talk about a solid brick wall of brick and mortar (with a steel frame placed deep within); that’s what you need in a defensive end for sure.
The ‘hump move’ of Reggie’s is still a phenomenon to this day, and one that has made many a sportscaster and sports writer marvel…his size and strength was pretty much unmatched throughout his career and his stats and accolades prove just that.
The other side of the coin was, he was a tremendously gentle giant in terms that he was religious and he didn’t even want to hurt anybody on the gridiron, and people knew this, yet they still feared him out there time and time again.
His smile was infectious and he truly was kind off the field as many people have attested to when speaking of the big man, Reggie White… ‘The minister of defense.’
Reggie White passed away on December 26, 2004 at the age of 43 from what the autopsy report stated was a respiratory disease with a combination of other health issues undisclosed at the time.
Wikipedia suggests that sleep apnea helped his respiratory issue along in terms of aggravating the lung issues further.
What a legacy he left behind, however. He left two children, Jeremy and Jecolia, and it was perhaps Jeremy, speaking during an interview a few years back that mentioned the lasting impression his father had on him:
"“I used to worry about everything I couldn’t control…I think after Dad passed away, the first thing that set me free from that was that I stopped putting pressure on myself about what I thought someone who cared about me wanted me to do…I always gave myself the affirmation: ‘You need to do exactly what it is that you are doing, and that is what everyone who loves you would want you to do.’– via Sports Spectrum"
Reggie’s teammate, Brett Favre, also had nothing but inspiring words to say when speaking about the legend after his passing:
"“He may have been best player I’ve ever seen and certainly was the best I’ve ever played with or against…Off the field, he did so much for so many people. He really reached a lot of people. … He was a great friend on and off the field. We’ll all miss him.”– via Packers.com"
On the field, off the field, Reggie White was a giant of a man, with a giant soul…both parts of him mighty and strong, and the lasting legacy that remains is one that still inspires, still awes, and still causes us to look back and smile, just as he did in the face of adversity.
RIP, Reggie White, we still miss you.