Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Reverend Reginald Howard "Reggie" White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004), nicknamed the "Minister of Defense" (a dual reference to his football prowess and to his Evangelical Christian ordination) was one of football's most prolific sackers in college, the USFL and the NFL.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, White played football at the University of Tennessee, setting school records for most sacks in a career, season and game, records he still holds. After college, White signed on with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, playing with them for two seasons, racking up 23.5 sacks, 192 tackles and seven forced fumbles in 34 starts.
After the USFL folded, Reggie White moved to the NFL and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played with the Eagles for eight seasons, picking up 124 sacks and becoming the Eagles' all-time sack leader . He also set a then-record season-best with 21 sacks in 1987.
In 1993, White went to the Green Bay Packers, where he played for six more seasons. While not as prolific as his previous years, White still notched up another 68.5 sacks, becoming the Packers' all-time leader in that category. He also helped the Packers to two Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. White was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.
Following the 1998 season, White announced his retirement, but in 1999 he said he spoke to God and was told to "fulfill his commitment", and thereafter signed with the Carolina Panthers for the 2000 season. However, he had a lackluster performance making just 15 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Following the season, White again retired.
At the time of his retirement, White was the NFL's all-time sacks leader with 198. He has since been surpassed by Bruce Smith who has 200.
White was also caught in the middle of the arson scares at predominantly African American churches during the mid-1990s. The Inner City Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, a church where White was an associate minister, was burned to the ground in 1996. However, an outpouring of financial support, in part because of White's celebrity, helped to rebuild the church.
White's retirement was not without controversy. He created a stir in March of 1998 with his comments before the Wisconsin state legislature that invoked clumsy but positive racial stereotypes of Latinos, Asians, whites, blacks, and Native Americans, explaining that all were made in God's image. Consistent with his understanding of Biblical doctrine and his religious beliefs, he made remarks about gays and lesbians, and subsequently became an ally of organizations opposed to homosexuality, appearing in a newspaper advertising campaign to convince gays and lesbians that they could cease their homosexuality. Gay human rights organizations opposed his remarks but defended his right to speak out.
He was married to Sara White and has two children, Jeremy and Jecholia. It was discovered that he was related to college football player Kevin Rollins when he arrived at one of his games. Rollins went on to play for the Miami Dolphins but broke his hand playing in Amsterdam.
On the morning of December 26, 2004, White died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 43. He was rushed from his home in Cornelius, North Carolina to a nearby hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, where he was pronounced dead. According to a preliminary autopsy report, released on December 27, 2004, White's death was due to a combination of respiratory ailments, including sarcoidosis and sleep apnea, resulting in fatal cardiac arrhythmia . A final autopsy report may not become available for up to three months after the initial report was released.
Both the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles intend to retire White's number 92 in a ceremony during the 2005 season. He will be only the fifth player to receive this honor from the Packers and the seventh from the Eagles. The Packers also plan to wear a helmet decal honoring White for all of their remaining games this season.
- He was a man that really loved people, people of all colors and creed, it didn't matter what shape or color you came in, Reggie was a man who really loved people."
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