Defensive end Reggie White, who died Dec. 26 of a respiratory ailment at age 43, played 15 NFL seasons for the Eagles, Packers and Panthers, made 13 straight Pro Bowls, twice was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year and won Super Bowl XXXI with Green Bay in 1997. He was also a Baptist minister who helped inner-city children but at times angered people with derogatory remarks about gays and women. Last week he was recalled, as a football player and a teammate, for his generosity, his passion and his locker-room pranks.
Lions coach STEVE MARIUCCI was Green Bay's quarterbacks coach from 1992 to '95 and invited Reggie and his wife, Sara, to dinner. "My boys were three, five and seven, and they wanted to play football with Reggie," Mariucci recalls. "He was tired from practice, but he said, 'Of course. Let's go.' He told them to get their friends for a game in the yard. There must have been a dozen kids. Reggie played quarterback for both teams, and I asked him to throw one to my youngest, Stephen. Boom! The pass hit Stephen in the nose. Stephen was really crying, mad. Reggie tried to console him and picked him up. Whammo! Stephen smacked him in the face with his elbow. Then he got down and ran into the house. Reggie spent the entire evening trying to get Stephen back on board. All night long Reggie tried to tickle him and giggle with him and make amends. Finally, after a couple hours, they were wrestling on the floor and having a good old time. Reggie was a big kid." ... Former Cardinals running back RON WOLFLEY recalls an exchange between Cardinals QB NEIL LOMAX and White: After sacking Lomax, White looked down at him and said, "Neil, Jesus loves you." Lomax replied, "I know. But what's your problem?" ... "The first time I saw Reggie play, in 1985, I said, 'This guy will be in the Hall of Fame,'" says Packers offensive line coach LARRY BEIGHTOL. "He was a phenom. Bigger, stronger, faster. The guy who did the best job on him was a rookie I had in Green Bay [White was with Carolina] named MARK TAUSCHER. After the game Reggie came into our locker room and congratulated Tausch on a fine job. Another time, when I was with the Chargers, he came across the field and said, 'Coach, I would highly recommend that your players stop cutting me. If they don't, I'm going to have to take it out on you.' I immediately told the boys, 'Do not touch Reggie's legs any longer.'" ... Former NFL safety EUGENE ROBINSON played with White in Green Bay and Carolina and was a pallbearer at his funeral (as were other NFLers: Below are Michael Perry, left foreground; Brett Favre, center; and Adrian Murrell, right). "He was always playing practical jokes with the hot and cold in the shower," said Robinson. "Then he would take a big wad of soap and, after you'd dried off, slap you in the back. You'd have to go back and wash off again. Reggie was funny. He had a lot of mama jokes. One time the train comes by the Carolina camp. We heard this big screech, Urgggggh. He said, 'DOUG [EVANS, a Panthers CB], that's your mama. She just jumped off the back of the train, and she's holding on to the caboose, and she's skiing now.' The way he said it, every last one of us was crying laughing. He said Doug's mama was so fat she was holding on, making this noise, Urgggggh. That's Reggie White."