National Football League (NFL) player Reggie White was a dominant defensive lineman during his playing career. One of the league’s all-time leaders in quarterback sacks, White was named to 13 consecutive Pro Bowl teams (1987-1999) and won the league’s defensive player of the year award in 1987 and 1998.
Reggie White (1961-2004), American professional football player, one of the top defensive players in National Football League (NFL) history. Playing the defensive-end position, White was famous for his ability to sack the quarterback (tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage).
Reginald Howard White was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended the University of Tennessee, where he became an All-American football player. After college White joined the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League (USFL) in 1984, and he recorded 23.5 sacks over the next two seasons. White began playing for the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL in 1985, contributing 13 sacks in 13 games that season. Over the next three years he posted 18, 21, and 18 sacks, and he was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year in 1987. From 1989 to 1992 White remained a mainstay of the Eagles’ defense, and in 1991 the team’s defense ranked first in the NFL.
In the early 1990s White became involved in the movement to establish unrestricted free agency in the NFL. After free agency began in 1993, White signed a contract with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had ranked 23rd in the NFL in defense in 1992, but the team improved to second in the league in White’s first season.
In 1997 White helped lead the Packers to Super Bowl, where they defeated the New England Patriots, 35-21. Green Bay advanced to the Super Bowl again the following season but lost to the Denver Broncos, 31-24. During his career White was named to the NFL Pro Bowl team in 13 consecutive seasons (1987 to 1999), winning the game’s most valuable player (MVP) award in 1987. He also won a second defensive player of the year award in 1998.
White retired after the 1998 season, but returned after a year off and played one season with the Carolina Panthers. He retired as the NFL career leader in sacks with 198, a record later eclipsed by Bruce Smith. In 2004 White died suddenly of a suspected respiratory ailment at age 43.
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