Reggie White dies of heart attack
December 26, 2004
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Ticker) - Defensive end Reggie White, a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame who retired as the NFL's all-time sacks leader in 2000, died early Sunday at his home near Huntersville, North Carolina.
White turned 43 last Sunday.
Cause of death was not given, although ESPN.com reported that White suffered a massive heart attack.
"Today our beloved husband, father and friend passed away," White's wife, Sara, said in a statement. "His family appreciates your thoughts and prayers as we mourn the loss of Reggie White. We want to thank you in advance for honoring our privacy."
Considered by many to be perhaps the NFL's greatest defensive lineman, White had 198 career sacks with the Philadelphia Eagles
(1985-92), Green Bay Packers
(1993-98) and Carolina Panthers
(2000). The sacks record was passed last year by Bruce Smith.
White was the defensive star and spiritual leader of the Packers' back-to-back Super Bowl teams in 1996 and 1997. He had three sacks in the Packers' 35-21 win over the New England Patriots
in Super Bowl XXXI.
Nicknamed "The Minister of Defense" for his dominance on the field and because he was an ordained minister, White retired after the 1998 season but returned in 2000 and played one more year with Carolina.
A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, White will likely be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 - his first year of eligibility. He was named to the NFL's 75th anniversary team and elected to the Pro Bowl a record 13 straight times from 1986-98.
After starring in college at Tennessee, White began his pro career with the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League in 1984 and compiled 23 1/2 sacks in two years. Those were not acknowledged in his NFL totals.
White started his NFL career in 1985 with the Eagles, who held his rights, after the USFL folded. He had 21 sacks in only 12 games in 1987, one shy of matching Mark Gastineau's single-season sack record of 22. Michael Strahan of the New York Giants
broke Gastineau's record in 2001.
After helping the Eagles make the playoffs four times in his eight years there, White signed a four-year, $17 million contract with Green Bay in 1993. Along with his dominance on the field, White made quite an impact in the community, working with inner-city kids and helping race relations. However, White's reputation was somewhat tarnished when he gave a speech in which he denounced homosexuality and used ethnic stereotypes. He later apologized for his comments.