A Fond Farewell to the “Minister of Defense”

By Jo Ann Lawery
Updated: December 28, 2004

Reggie White
Reggie White

LOS ANGELES — He wore number 92 for the Green Bay Packers and was affectionately called, “the Minister of Defense.”

For 15 years, Reggie White was one player that quarterbacks didn’t want to see.

The day after Christmas, White died at the young age of 43.

The cause of death was unknown although he was known to have a lung condition.

White began his career with the Philadelphia Eagles after leaving the U. of Tennessee.

In 1993, he shocked everybody, especially African American football fans by leaving Philadelphia and signing a $17 million, four-year deal with, of all teams, the Green Bay Packers.

White was also an ordained minister, hence the nickname.

When asked why Green Bay, where no African American football star had any desire to go to, stated simply that God had sent him there.

By signing with the Packers, he opened up the way for other African American players to play in Green bay, aka “The Frozen Tundra”.

Think about it, did ever see the “Lambeau Leap” before the Packers got a “little color” on the team?

In 1996, White and the Packers won the Super Bowl.

(Of course, having a quarterback named Favre didn’t hurt either,)

A lot of football fans remember him for his comments about ethnic groups and homosexuals, but that’s not what I remember him for.

I remember, no matter how hard he played against other players, at the end of the game, members from both teams would get together and have a prayer circle in the middle of the field, with White leading the prayers.

I also remember, in the 1990’s, his church in Tennessee was one of the black churches that were set on fire.

He ended his career with the Carolina Panthers, but he’s best remembered as a Packer, who will rightfully retire his number.

He is, as they say, a stone cold lock to make the Football Hall of Fame.

I also think there should be a trophy named after him.

If the Super Bowl Trophy can be named for Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Packers, why can’t one be named for a player who made it more than okay for African American players to play in Green Bay?

R.I.P. Number 92. Football will miss you.