Gone with God

Defensive lineman Reggie White, who terrorized quarterbacks for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, has died of a massive heart attack at age 43, according to ESPN. Reporter Andrea Kremer said that since leaving he game, he had suffered through his wife’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and had been studying Hebrew in a search to better clarify his religious beliefs.

He left his wife, a son and a daughter. The family issued a statement thanking fans and reporters for their thoughts and asking that their privacy be respected. White was nicknamed the “Minister of Defense” for his football prowess and his Evangelical Christian ordination.

I greatly respected and admired Reggie White. Although he played an unglamorous position, and played for the archrival Packers, he was always one of my favorite players. He was fearless both on the field and off, and his determination to speak openly about Jesus Christ made him a man I wished to emulate in my own public life.

My most indelible memory of the Minister of Defense as a player was a game at the Metrodome. The Vikings had the ball at the twenty, right in front of our seats, and drew up an insane blocking scheme for a screen pass that involved Randall Cunningham rolling out to his right and Cris Carter blocking the defensive end so that the right tackle could pull to the left. This would have been dubious under normal circumstances, but it was a disaster since the defensive end involved was Reggie White. White shoved Carter and with a single push sent him literally flying back seven yards into the quarterback, so hard that when Carter struck Cunningham, both Vikings went down in a heap. He was truly one of the all-time NFL greats.

His race was far too short, but it was well-run indeed. May God richly reward him and give strength and comfort his family.