December 26, 2004 by

Reggie White


Categories: Religious Leaders, Sports

rwhite.jpgAn ordained minister and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Reginald Howard White was known as the “Minister of Defense.”
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound defensive end spent 15 years playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers before retiring in 2000 as the NFL’s all-time leader in sacks (198). Buffalo’s Bruce Smith broke White’s record in 2003.
An All-American lineman at the University of Tennessee, White joined the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League in 1984. When the USFL folded a year later, the Chattanooga, Tenn., native was drafted by the Eagles, where he contributed to Philadelphia’s “Gang Green” defense for eight years.
White was one of the plaintiffs in a class action antitrust lawsuit that led to the unrestricted, free agency system. In 1993, he was the first major black player to sign with Green Bay as a free agent, a deal worth $17 million over four years. His signing, along with a trade for Brett Favre, was credited with helping the Packers reach the Super Bowl championship twice, including a win over New England in 1997. White also set a Super Bowl record by making three sacks.
White missed only one game during his last 12 seasons and started all but three games during that same time period. He was elected to the Pro Bowl 13 times, and named to the NFL’s 75th anniversary team.
Off the field, White encouraged inner-city youths to stay in school and avoid drugs. He founded the Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment ministry and served as the associate pastor at the Inner City Community Church in Knoxville, Tenn. The church was burned down in 1998, and racial epithets were left at the scene.
Two months later, White’s image was tarnished when he gave a speech to the Wisconsin State Assembly that promoted ethnic stereotypes and referred to homosexuality as “one of the biggest sins in the Bible.” Although he later apologized, his comments cost him commercial endorsements and a chance to be a television commentator at CBS.
In later years, White moved away from the evangelical form of Christianity that once inspired him to hold prayer meetings in the locker room. He began studying the Torah and the Bible in its original Hebrew, and told the media he was less interested in the tenets of organized religion than he was in being involved with “the Jewish Messiah who died for my sins.”
White died on Dec. 26. Cause of death was not released. He was 43.
Listen to a Tribute From NPR

19 Responses to Reggie White

  1. Frank S.

    While most people are busy polishing this man’s halo, I seem to mostly recall him being a homophobe and racist. Great football player? Yes, definitely. But other than that he was just another self-appointed prophet who thought he had a direct-line to God (who apparently told Reggie to play for Green Bay).
    Rest in peace, Reggie. I would’ve listened and given more credence to your preaching had you ever bothered to tolerate a dissenting viewpoint.

  2. Lisa Price

    I am so sad to hear about Reggie death and the cause of it if what I hear is true, He truly was a great athelete and I will always remember him in my thoughts and prayers, GOD BLess you Reggie

  3. Harold Ickes

    He really was a giant of a man. He spoke as he saw fit. People believe in the bible as the word of God. The Bible tells us that homosexuality is an abomination. Not many sins have that distinction. Reggie was not mean or hurtful to anyone even sinners such as homosexuals.
    God rest his soul.

  4. Rachel berry

    I must say how sad I was to hear of Reggie passing away. He is in a better place. I have heard he died of lung failure due to Sarcoidosis Disease. My daughter who was diagnosed last year with this is now 20 years old ,and is suffering from this terrible sickness. I hope more people will research this disease. I believe we have been looking at AIDS,Diabetes,cystic fibrosis and many other life threatening diseases,but leave out killers like Sarcoidosis. Reggie White always stood up for children and adults with problems. Why can’t scientists,doctors,and medical people find a cure for this? Not enough money,so it doesn’t matter that’s why. Let’s all pray this changes. In the name of “Reggie”! Rachel Berry

  5. Stephanie R. White

    You are truly missed by all of us. There’s not a day that passes that we don’t think of you. The family is lost with out you.
    Love, Stephanie White & Your Little Cousins
    Basil, William, Jessica, Chris, & and Andrew White

  6. ac666

    Wow, I only just found out about Reggie’s passing on your website and was stunned. I remember seeing him playing with the Eagles, then the Pack on TV with my brother when we were kids. He was a legendary player; if I think of great US footballers (I’m an Aussie) Reggie is one of the first names that comes to mind. Another taken too soon.

  7. Mike

    A man who ventured outside of the box to find God for himself. As Christians to truly know God we must find him through the word for ourselves and I believe Reggie found some peace. LOVE

  8. Dan

    Reggie was the best. He brought the glory years back to Green Bay. He will never be forgotten.
    GO PACK!!!
    Just got back from the stockholders meeting in Green Bay. They played a touching video tribute to Reggie at the meeting in honor of his induction Saturday.

  9. Tony Lawson

    Reggie will be missed immensely. I would like to commend Reggie on his stand against the abominable sin of “Homosexuality” Reggie is surely in heaven.

  10. Maika Kuka

    Reggie is a very good athletes. To me, I learned so much from what he can do on the field and off the field. With all that he do for this world and what he show me and you young athletes what sport is all about, he will never be forgotten. I will lift him up high as he is in heaven. “I celebrate his death he is in a better place”. God Bless.

  11. charlton harley

    I met reggie at a local park ( sewell, NJ ) back in 1987 when he and his family lived in NJ. I found him to be A very humble individual.

  12. ronnie

    I have the same disease that reggie had, Is their any way i can contact sarah white by email to talk to her about this bad disese. please help

  13. David Faircloth

    I watched him play football for years. Though I didn’t always agree with his view point, I respected him for telling it as he saw it. As a former member of the United States Armed Forces, I,like many others fought for his right to say what he wanted. Even in death you find those that will beat on someone that can no longer defend himself.Usually I find people that speak ill of someone like that can’t ever carry their jock strap. Reggie was a great man and a hell of a football player. I have and will miss him

  14. dave

    FYI, He was not a racist! I met him back when he played for Phili, and was cool to talk to!
    He just said it like it was and if you didn’t like it, too bad! lol

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