White, Reggie (1961-2004)

Cards: Action Packed 1991, Action Packed 1992.
Acquired: TTM c/o The Green Bay Packers, 1994.

Reggie White is arguably one of the greatest defensive ends, and one of the best players to be imported to the NFL after the failure of the fledgling USFL.

After setting multiple records at Tennessee, White would be drafted by the Memphis Showboats of the USFL in 1984. Playing in two seasons for the league he’d rack up almost 25 sacks and 200 tackles before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles who held his draft rights. White would grab defensive rookie of the year in 1985. As a cornerstone to the Eagles, Reggie sacked quarterbacks a mind-numbing 124 times with the Eagles, averaging more than a sack a game from his left defensive end position. In 1987 alone he’d rack up 21 sacks.  White would be nicknamed ‘The Minister of Defense’ by his teammates, because of his ability to disrupt team’s offenses and the fact that he was an ordained minister since the age of 17.

White would be an important high profile name in a landmark lawsuit against the NFL that would eventually allow for what is now known in the league as free agency. This allowed for a general rise in salaries and also  inadvertently contributed to the concept of a salary cap.  In 1993, Reggie would become the first big name to switch teams from the Eagles to the Packers creating an immense amount of buzz. With Reggie also switching to the Pack this would also shatter the notion that small market cities would not be able to compete with larger cities for marquee talent. The Packers would play in two Super Bowls during his tenure there, and he would get 3 sacks in Super Bowl XXXI which still stands as a record today. Reggie would retire briefly in 1998 and play one final season in 2000 for the Carolina Panthers.

White’s career numbers and accolades were astounding: 198 sacks (2nd all time) , 1st team AP 10 times, All Decade Team of the 80’s and 90’s, and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team.  He’d only have 3 seasons during his 15 year career where he’d have under 10 sacks, and finish with over 1000 tackles. Tragically Reggie White would pass away December 26th, 2004 of a cardiac arythmia in his sleep at the age of 43. Posthumously he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006 and his jersey was retired by the Packers, Eagles and Volunteers.

It is said that near the end of his life, Reggie strayed away from Christianity and towards more Judaic religious beliefs, but this is not so. White was extremely interested and respectful of religious ideals, and remained a devout Christian, (and an outspoken, contraversial one at that) to the day of his passing. He’d also lend a helping hand to many churches during the spate of Southern Black church burnings during the 1990s.

I seem to remember being surprised to get this autograph back from the Packers and in under a month or two. I like it when players inscribe the cards with a bible verse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the most religious person, but it tells me a bit about their personality and who they are. Reggie signed his cards with Matt 3:3-16. Now This isn’t 3:3,16. It’s 3:3 through 16. That’s a hefty amount of scripture so I’ll just leave it at 3:3

“For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”

Below are his NFL statistics:

Games 232      Tac 1048    Sac  198    FF 33     Int  3  Yds 79    Avg  29.3   Td  0