Monday, March 12, 2007

Sports Illustrated: July 26, 2006

The late Reggie White was pictured in the Packers’ 29th appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which was the “Pro Football Hall of Fame Commemorative Issue,” in July of 2006. The cover states, “Reggie White: A Salute to an NFL Legend.” The other members of the Hall of Fame class of 2006 were Troy Aikman, Harry Carson, John Madden, Warren Moon, and Rayfield Wright.

Each player is featured in a special section, along with many photos and career statistics. At the beginning of White’s feature, SI states: “It takes a giant of a man with a huge heart and a powerful will to build a church and then rebuild it from the ashes while also galvanizing a young team and ultimately leading it to the Super Bowl. The Minister of Defense was one of a kind.”

Actually, the article presented in this “Special Issue” is a reprint from a Sports Illustrated issue in September of 1996 — before the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI. A good portion of the article focuses on the then-recent burning of White’s church in Knoxville, TN — and his ministries in general.

White retired from the Green Bay Packers in 1998, and later came back to play one season for the Carolina Panthers in 2000. He retired for good from football after that season as the NFL’s all-time sack leader with 198. Bruce Smith would later surpass White’s mark by two in 2003.

White died unexpectedly the day after Christmas in 2004 at the age of 43 from a respiratory ailment.

The Packers and the NFL will probably never see a player of his caliber again for a long, long time.