Thursday, December 30, 2004

Reggie White (1961-2004)

Whenever the Banshee takes a vacation, it takes a few days for this blog to get back up to date. Although this post is late, I did not want to allow the recent death -- and most importantly, the life -- of Reggie White to pass by without notice.

Reggie White had a glorious NFL career that included 13 straight selections to the Pro Bowl. White began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1985. He then joined the Packers in 1993 and helped lift that storied franchise back to greatness in the '90's. White ended his career with the Carolina Panthers. When he retired, White owned the record for career sacks.

As great as Reggie White was on the field, he was just as great off the field. "Reggie White was a gentle warrior who will be remembered as one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Equally as impressive as his achievements on the field was the positive impact he made off the field and the way he served as a positive influence on so many young people."

The Minister of Defense was a real life, ordained minister ever since he was a young man. He was instrumental in bringing about free agency for NFL players and was famous for his work with inner-city youths. Reverand White was also one of the founders of Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment.

Then on Sunday morning, December 26, Reggie White was pronounced dead at Presbyterian Hospital in North Carolina. He was only 43 years old. White apparently died in his sleep, but the cause of his death is somewhat mysterious. White has suffered recently from a respiratory ailment that affected his sleep but was otherwise in good health. Just the day before his unexpected death, White took his family to see Fat Albert on Christmas day. An autopsy was conducted this week, but the family has asked for privacy in this matter.

White is survived by his wife Sara, his daughter Jeremy, a freshman at Elon University, and his son Jecolia, a junior in high school.

Perhaps Mike Holmgren, White's coach as a Green Bay Packer, summed up most people's feelings best when he said, "He was just a wonderful player, first of all. Then, as a person, he was just the best. .... I'm a better person for having been around Reggie White."