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*Reggie White was born on this date in 1961. He was a Black football player and minister.
From Chattanooga Tennessee, he graduated from Howard High School winning All-State in Basketball and All-American in Football and Basketball. He was player of the Year in Chattanooga and Player of the Year in the nation with Patrick Ewing as first runner-up. White was nicknamed the "Minister of Defense" (a dual reference to his football prowess and to his Evangelical Christian ordination) was one of the American football's most prolific defensive ends in college, the USFL and the NFL.
He played football at the University of Tennessee, setting school records for most sacks in a career, season and game, records he still holds. After college, White signed on with the Memphis Showboats of the USFL, playing with them for two seasons, racking up 23.5 sacks, 192 tackles and seven forced fumbles in 34 starts.
After the USFL folded, White came to the NFL and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played with the Eagles for eight seasons, picking up 124 sacks and becoming the Eagles' all-time sack leader. He also set a (then) record season best with 21 sacks in 1987. In 1993, White went to the Green Bay Packers, where he played for six more seasons. There, White notched up another 68.5 sacks, becoming the Packers' all-time leader in that category.
He also helped the Packers to two Super Bowls. White raised controversy in 1998 when he publicly condemned homosexuality. White, an ordained minister, spoke before the Wisconsin State Assembly, saying, "We've allowed this sin [homosexuality] to run rampant in our nation, and because it has run rampant in our nation, our nation is in the condition it's in today."
He was also caught in the middle of the arson scares at Black churches during the mid-1990s. The Inner City Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, a church where White was an associate minister, was burned to the ground in 1996. However, an outpouring of financial support, in part because of White's celebrity, helped to rebuild the church. Following the 1998 season, White announced his retirement, but in 1999, he got the urge to play football once again and signed with the Carolina Panthers for the 2000 season. Following the season, he again retired.
It was also discovered that White was related to college football player Kevin Rollins when he arrived at one of his games. Kevin went on to play for the Miami Dolphins but broke his hand playing in Amsterdam. White had recently traveled to Israel and had begun to learn to speak Hebrew as well. He was married to Sara White and had two children, Jeremy and Jecholia. Reggie White died of a combination of respiratory ailments, including sarcoidosis and Sleep Apnea, resulting in fatal cardiac arrhythmia on December 26, 2004.
The Associated Press
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