Reggie White is commonly regarded as one of the greatest players to play the game in NFL history. White put forth a legendary career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers that saw him become a bonafide Hall of Famer. He has had an incredible impact on the game of football and the generations that have followed him. However, his life came to a tragic end still has many impacted by his loss at a young age.
Reggie White’s USFL career
Following a decorated career at Tennessee, Reggie White decided to go the route of playing in the United States Football League as the Memphis Showboats took him in the 1984 USFL Territorial Draft with the fourth overall pick.
White played two years with the Showboats, where he played in 36 games, racking up 23.5 sacks, a forced fumble that he returned for a touchdown, and a safety. That saw him earn First-Team All-USFL in 1985. His time in the USFL came to an abrupt end as the league went under in that same year after nearly four years of existence.
He then took his talents to the NFL, which saw him take a notable pay cut with the Eagles on a four-year, $1.85 million deal after he was bought out of the final three years of his contract with Memphis. It set the stage him putting forth a Hall of Fame career in the league.
Reggie White’s NFL career
It didn’t take long for Reggie White to make an immediate impact in the NFL, quickly becoming one of the league’s best defensive talents.
White spent 15 years in the league, where he dominated the competition and racked up a then NFL-record 198.0 sacks with 33 forced fumbles throughout his Hall of Fame career. That saw him earn 13 Pro Bowl selections, eight First-Team All-Pro nods, five Second-Team All-Pro selections, two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, three NFC Defensive Player of the Year honors, and led the league in sacks twice. He had dominant stretches with the Eagles and Packers, where he won his lone Super Bowl before finishing his career with the Carolina Panthers.
His tremendous religious faith off the field and dominate on the field earned him the nickname “Minister of Defense” that stuck with him throughout his career. He holds the record with nine straight seasons with at least 10 sacks, and second with 13 campaigns with 10 or more sacks. He also had five seasons with at least 15 sacks, which is highlighted by his 21-sack year in 1987.
Reggie White is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Packers’ Hall of Fame, Eagles’ Hall of Fame, a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, First-Team All-Decade in the 1980s and 1990s, and his jersey retired by both Philadelphia and Green Bay.
Reggie White’s death
Following his second and final retirement after the 2000 season, Reggie White wrapped with a then-NFL record 198 sacks.
White ventured into his faith that he was long dedicated throughout his life, including his NFL career. In his retirement, he delved into Judaism by studying the Torah while being committed to his Christian faith. However, his life came to a sudden end in December 2004 as he rushed a hospital after succumbing to cardiac arrhythmia.
He was pronounced dead at a hospital in Hunterville, North Carolina. The Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that it was more than likely caused by cardiac and pulmonary sarcoidosis that he had lived with for many years. White also dealt with sleep apnea, which is believed to have contributed to his early death.
Following his passing, his wife created the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research and Education Foundation to help those dealing with sleep disorders. White put forth an incredible career that saw him significantly impacting the game and the many generations that have followed him in the league. He was an all-great talent that had his life ended far too soon.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.