American Football Wiki
Reggie White
White in 1994.
No. 92, 91
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Born: December 19, 1961
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Died: December 26, 2004 (aged 43)
Cornelius, North Carolina
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 300 lbs (136 kg)
Personal information
High school: Howard
(Chattanooga, Tennessee)
College: Tennessee
Supplemental Draft: 1984 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th
Career history
Career highlights and awards

Reginald Howard White (December 19, 1961 – December 26, 2004) was an American professional football player who played defensive end in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. He played college football for the University of Tennessee, and was recognized as an All-American. After playing two professional seasons for the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League (USFL), he was selected in the first round of the 1984 Supplemental Draft, and then played for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers, becoming one of the most awarded players in NFL history.

The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, 13-time Pro Bowl, and 13-time All-Pro selection holds second place all-time among NFL career sack leaders with 198 (behind Bruce Smith's 200 career sacks, but most all-time when USFL totals are tallied) and was selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, and the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team. During his professional career, he was also known for his Christian ministry as an ordained Evangelical minister, leading to his nickname, "the Minister of Defense".[1] White is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Personal life[]

White was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended Howard School of Academics and Technology[2] during high school, and from there was recruited to play for the Tennessee Volunteers. As a professional he played with both USFL and NFL teams. He was also a Christian. He was married to the former Sara Copeland, with whom he had two children, Jeremy and Jecolia.

College career[]

White played college football at Tennessee from 1980 to 1983, where he set school records for most sacks in a career, season and game. He still holds these records. While playing for the Volunteers, White was named an All-American. He was the SEC Player of the Year in his Senior season of 1983.

Professional career[]


Memphis Showboats[]

After college, White signed with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL. He played for Memphis for two seasons, starting in 36 games. As a member of the Showboats, he racked up 23.5 sacks, 198 tackles, and seven forced fumbles.


Philadelphia Eagles[]

When the USFL collapsed, White had proven himself good enough to be desired by NFL teams. He was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, who held his NFL rights. He played with the Eagles for eight seasons, during which time he picked up 124 sacks, becoming the Eagles' all-time sack leader. He also set the Eagles regular-season record with 21 sacks in a single season (1987). White also became the only player to ever accumulate twenty or more sacks in just twelve games. He also set an NFL regular-season record during 1987 by averaging the most sacks per game, with 1.75 sacks per game. Over the course of his tenure with the Eagles, White actually accumulated more sacks than the number of games that he played. He was voted by ESPN Sportsnation as the greatest player in Eagles' franchise history.[3]

Green Bay Packers[]

Green Bay Packers at White House 1997

Reggie White with teammate Brett Favre (behind) presenting President Bill Clinton with a Packers team jacket at a 1997 ceremony following the Packers' win in Super Bowl XXXI.

In 1993, White became a free agent. He was signed by the Green Bay Packers, where he played for six seasons. While not quite as prolific as in his years with the Eagles, White still notched up another 68.5 sacks, to become, at the time, the Packers' all-time leader in that category (second now to Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila who has 74.5 registered sacks). White was also just as valued for his role as a team leader. He helped the Packers to two Super Bowls, including a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. That victory was the only championship White ever shared in at any level. In 1998, White was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Carolina Panthers[]

In 2000, he came out of a 1-year retirement and started all 16 games for the Panthers. White had 5.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble while with the team. He again retired at the end of the 2000 season.


After the 1998 season, White retired from professional football. However, in 2000, White was wooed back to the league by the Carolina Panthers. He played for one season as a Panther, then retired again.

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.) Counting his time in the USFL, White has 221.5 sacks in top-level professional football, making him professional football's all-time sacks leader. White also recorded three interceptions, which he returned for 79 yards. He recovered nineteen fumbles, which he returned for 137 yards and three touchdowns. His nine consecutive seasons (1985–1993) with at least ten sacks remain an NFL record. He was named an All-Pro for thirteen of his fifteen seasons, including eight as a first-team selection.

Professional wrestling[]

White famously appeared on screen at two professional wrestling events–wrestling one match. In April 1995 he was ringside as part of Lawrence Taylor's "All-Stars" for his match against Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI. During the show he participated in one backstage segment with the All-Stars, calling out Money Inc. member Irwin R. Shyster. Before and during the actual match the All-Stars and Money, Inc. teams were involved in a scuffle, which White participated in.

On May 18, 1997, White wrestled his only professional wrestling match for WCW at Slamboree. He wrestled fellow NFL (and LT's All-Star team mate) alumnus Steve McMichael. The two men emulated football tackles during their bout. White received a warm response from the professional wrestling crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina, but nonetheless lost to McMichael after being hit with a steel Zero Halliburton briefcase secretly given to McMichael by his valet (and then-real life wife) Debra McMichael.

Religious activities[]

In White's last year of football, a friend reportedly gave White a teaching CD from Messianic teacher Monte Judah. Following his retirement, White began studying Torah and Torah-observant Messianic theology.[4] White also studied Hebrew under Nehemia Gordon. In October 2003, White was interviewed by Messianic teacher and televangelist Michael Rood, and he discussed his studies of Torah. The interview was broadcast on February 4 and 6, 2005, on the Sky Angel cable channel. Following White's death, the January 2005 edition of Messianic magazine Yavoh was dedicated to him as a "Messianic Believer," leading to confusion regarding White's religious beliefs. Some reported—incorrectly—that White had abandoned Christianity and was studying Judaism. This may have arisen because some Christians consider Messianic theology to be a form of Judaism because it holds obedience to the Torah as an expression of one's faith, and it is frequently referred to as "Messianic Judaism."

White was touched by the African American church arson scares during the mid-1990s. The Inner City Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, where White was an associate minister, burned to the ground in 1996.


White's retirement was not without controversy. He created a stir in March 1998 with his comments before the Wisconsin state legislature, invoking racial stereotypes of Latinos, Asians, whites, blacks, and Native Americans. He stated that these diverse "gifts" of each race, "formed a complete image of God [...] because He was trying to create Himself". An image that society had pushed aside, leading to the aversion of racial unity. He specified that "without assimilation there's no desegregation, nor is there integration, because people of all ethnic backgrounds have to be able to compete economically in order to build their families."

Later, in an interview with ABC's 20/20, White made remarks about gays and lesbians. Subsequently, White became an ally of organizations opposed to homosexuality; he appeared in a newspaper advertising campaign to convince gays and lesbians that they could "cease" their homosexuality. As a result, CBS withdrew a five-year, $6 million contract for being a part of the pregame panel because of his statements calling homosexuality a sin.[5][6] Both the Green Bay Packers and the NFL objected to the ads, since White had appeared in his football uniform without the consent of the team or the league. Later versions of the ad removed the uniform.


On the morning of December 26, 2004, White was rushed from his home in Cornelius, North Carolina, to a nearby hospital in Huntersville, North Carolina, where he was pronounced dead. White had suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia. The most likely cause of this, according to the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner's Office, was the cardiac and pulmonary sarcoidosis with which he had lived for years.[7] It was also stated that sleep apnea, which White was known to suffer from[8] may have contributed to his death.[9] His grave site is situated at Glenwood Memorial Park, Mooresville, North Carolina.


Jersey number retirements[]

During the 2005 season, two NFL teams and the University of Tennessee retired White's number 92 jersey.

The University of Tennessee retired White's jersey at a halftime presentation on October 1, 2005 during their game against the University of Mississippi, the third such retirement in the modern era of football at the school; a commemorative sign was also unveiled in the south end of Neyland Stadium. During a halftime presentation at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2005, White became the fifth Green Bay Packer to have his number retired by the franchise. On December 5, 2005, the Philadelphia Eagles retired his jersey in a halftime ceremony during the Eagles' Monday Night Football game with the Seattle Seahawks, who were coached by Mike Holmgren, White's former coach in Green Bay. White became the first player in NFL history to have his number officially retired by multiple teams. The Packers and the Eagles also wore a helmet decal honoring White for the remaining games in the season.

File:Reggie White Ret Number 92.png

White's number was retired by the University of Tennessee in 2005

File:Packers retired number 92.svg

White's number was retired by the Packers in 2005

Hall of Fame[]

White was elected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot on February 4, 2006. He was enshrined at a ceremony on August 5, 2006 in Canton, Ohio. White's widow, Sara White, delivered her husband's acceptance speech at the ceremony. She was introduced by their son, Jeremy White, who also released the first copies of his autobiography, In His Shadow: Growing Up With Reggie White, during the Hall of Fame weekend in honor of his father. Jeremy thanked the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" in his introduction, echoing Reggie White's dedication to his faith.

White was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005, and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Named streets[]

The official sign hanging for Reggie White Boulevard took place on Monday, December 8, 2008, at 2 p.m. at the intersection of 20th and Carter Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. White’s mother, Thelma White Collier, along with other family and friends were on hand to witness the change to Reggie White Boulevard. The official name change was approved by the Chattanooga City Council on November 4, 2008.

There is also a Reggie White Way in Green Bay, Wisconsin, off of Lombardi Avenue near Lambeau Field.


  1. "Video: Top 5 NFL free agent signings", Sports Illustrated, March 13, 2013. 
  2. » History » Hall Of Famers » Reggie White
  3. Who is the greatest in Eagles history?. ESPN Sportsnation (2008-08-02). Retrieved on 2008-11-07.
  4. Template:Cite episode
  5. Berkowitz, Bill. "The Return of Reggie White", Working for Change, 08-09-2000. Retrieved on 2007-06-23. Archived from the original on 2006-12-31. 
  6. Zirin, Dave. "The Death of Reggie White: an Off the Field Obituary", Common Dreams News Center, 2004-12-28. Retrieved on 2007-06-23. 
  7. ESPN - Backup QB doesn't plan to stop riding - NFL
  8. AASM Accredits 1,000th Facility | News | Sleep Review
  9. "Apnea a weighty matter", USA Today, December 29, 2004. Retrieved on May 22, 2010. 

External links[]