LARGER THAN LIFE
A remembrance of Reggie White
By Maxwell A. Quinn

His picture popped up on the screen. Underneath scrolled the years of his life: 1961-2004. Reggie White, the Minister of Defense, was dead at the age of 43.

He was a large man – 6’5”, with weight shadowing 300. His accomplishments on the field were equally large, and assure his entrance into the Hall of Fame. He was a member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. He was a two-time winner of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Award – once with Philadelphia in 1987, and then 11 years later, in 1998, as a member of the Green Bay Packers. Playing 15 years in the NFL, with the Eagles, the Packers and a final season with the Panthers, White twice led the league in sacks, accumulating 198 of them over the course of his career, an NFL record later eclipsed by Bruce Smith.

A list of his humanitarian accomplishments would rival the list of his football accomplishments
As large as he was on the field, by some accounts he was even larger off it. A list of his humanitarian accomplishments would rival the list of his football accomplishments. He was the winner of two Humanitarian Awards – the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award in 1992, and the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award in 1996. He also was the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Tolerance Award Winner in 1996. He was the founder of Urban Hope, an entrepreneurial development ministry and the co-founder of Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment.

For all his accomplishments, on and off the field, most will remember Reggie White for something else – his unabashed evangelical Christianity. An ordained minister who preached the Gospel from the age of 17, Reggie understood the platform of celebrity, and used that platform to share his faith in Jesus.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, chasing White’s Green Bay Packer career sack record, reflected on hearing the news of White’s death, “It was tough. I heard about it during church. It was just tough.”

“He was a man after God’s heart”
Gbaja-Biamila, who holds the Packer record for most consecutive seasons with double-digit sacks, remembered Reggie as a “man who tried to follow God’s will. He was a man after God’s heart. He used his platform to share the Gospel. It was an honor to meet him, and to know he experienced some of the same struggles I do.”

White shared his faith not only with the community, but with his teammates. “I don’t go around preaching in the locker room,” White said, “But I try to live a certain way, and maybe that will have some kind of effect. I think God has allowed me to have an impact on a few people’s lives.”

One of those teammates touched by Reggie during his Packer days was Ken Ruettgers, a tackle with the Packers from 1985-1996.

The next night we went into the locker room and Reggie baptized us in the whirlpool.
Ruettgers related the story of how he and his wife and Mike Arthur, a center with the Packers from 1995-1996, and his wife, had been baptized by Reggie in the Packer’s Jacuzzi.

“We were sitting around talking one evening – me and my wife and Mike Arthur and his wife and Reggie and Keith Jackson. I had been baptized as an infant and had never made a public proclamation with my baptism. So we thought – ‘why not?’

“The next night we went into the locker room and Reggie baptized us in the whirlpool. It was a huge thing. It was the biggest baptistry I’d ever seen. Afterwards, we sang songs and prayed.”

For all the accolades and affirmations bestowed on Reggie, none is as meaningful as the one whispered into his ear as he crossed the line from this life into the next – the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew – “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Reggie White. Larger than life – with a faith larger than death.



Remembering Reggie

They called him the Minister of Defense.

And it made sense.

Whether an Eagle, Packer or Panther,

he led his congregation of defenders

with an inspired word, articulate grace

and an upfront commitment

others attempted to follow.

His name was White

His skin was black.

But race was not his game.

Football was his calling.

It’s what his life was about.

But there’s no doubt

the gridiron was more than just sport for Reggie.

It was his ministry.

It was where his God-given talent was invested

and where life’s ultimate issues were tackled.

On the field he brought his faith to bear

scrimmaging against ego, anger and greed

as well as mediocrity, pain and materialism.

As iron sharpens iron, so his life touched others

both on and off the turf.

It’s why he suited up each Sunday

Still he refused to wear his religion on his sleeve.

It’s why he let down during the week

insisting to show his approachability to kids

who sought his autograph or the click of a Kodak.

Whether winning or losing,

choosing to serve others by serving Christ

was Reggie’s overriding concern.

It’s what has earned him an irreplaceable place

among his teammates, in the entire NFL

and in the hearts of fans the world over.

Peace be to his memory!

 

by Greg Asimakoupoulos

Rhymes and Reasons www.partialobserver.com