Reginald Howard "Reggie" White became known as the "Minister of Defense" because he was an ordained minister at age 17.
He played college football for the University of Tennessee, and was recognized as an All-American in the Southeast Conference. While at college, he set school records for the most sacks in a career, season, and game.
He initially played two seasons for the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League (USFL). He was selected in the first round of the 1985 Supplemental Draft, and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers.
He became one of the most decorated players in NFL history. His accomplishments on the field were, a two time defensive player of the year, 13 Pro Bowls, and he holds second place among sack leaders of the NFL with 198.5. He was also selected to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
Reggie put the fear of God in offensive linemen and quarterbacks for 15 years. No doubt when a quarterback saw him coming, they became "believers" and probably prayed they wouldn't get sacked by him. The things he did on-field were remarkable but it was what he did off-field that really mattered.
Matt Millen told the Associated Press, "as great a player Reggie was, he was an even better person." Ex-NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said this about him:
White was one of pro football's greatest defensive players and a positive influence on so many young people.
The Minister of Defense was as solid on the field as he was off. He had integrity, a good work ethic and was a man of character. He was a profound advocate of his Christian beliefs and his allegiance to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Reggie could stay focused on the field because he kept his eyes on the true prize that awaited him.
Dokie Williams, who was a former L.A. Raider had this to say about Reggie, "he was an awesome individual. He loved the Lord." Williams also said that Reggie had "a real love for people and anyone he ran into. Reggie's heart was as big as he was."
During Reggie's playing days, he could be seen praying with others after the game. He would also encourage them in their walk with Christ. He was a bold and courageous man of God who wasn't afraid to tackle politically incorrect subjects. He was a true Christ-like example of a man with morals and values.
He wasn't like some of these players you see in the league today. He did nothing on the field, or off, to tarnish the image of Christ. Reggie spent his life bringing glory to Christ in everything he did.
He and his wife built Place of Hope, which is a shelter for unwed mothers. They built the shelter on a property near their home in rural Tennessee. They also founded the Alpha & Omega Ministry to sponsor a community development bank in Knoxville. Reggie once said, “God places the heaviest burden on those who can carry its weight.”
He was exemplary in his passion for God, family, the community and his dedication for making the world a better place is unrivaled by anyone. Sadly on Dec. 26, 2004 the "Minister of Defense" went home to be with the Lord. He was rushed to the hospital for what the doctors termed a respiratory illness.
Officially his death was a result of Obstructive Sleep Apnea which is said to have caused his heart attack. In 2006, Reggie was inducted to the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio an honor he truly deserved. However, his true reward was received when he walked through the gates of heaven.