White, a man of faith, was holy terror on field

Posted: August 12, 2007

2 Reggie White. The eyes. Everyone remembers the eyes. When Reggie White was bearing down on a quarterback, pushing forward like a bull, his eyes foretold the impact: I'm coming. You can't stop me.

No one could.

White simply revolutionized the defensive end position. He was a fleet-footed monster, a man who stood 6-foot-5 and weighed close to 300 pounds but could run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, a time reserved for defensive backs. For eight seasons, White was a Philadelphia Eagle, tallying more sacks (124) than games played (121), while making seven straight Pro Bowl appearances.

In his debut with the Eagles in Week 4 of 1985, White had 21/2 sacks and deflected a Phil Simms pass that was intercepted for a touchdown. His intensity never waned, and his 21 sacks in the strike-shortened, 12-game 1987 season remains one of the most impressive performances in NFL history.

Before skating to Green Bay as a big-name free agent in 1993, White was named to seven all-pro teams and twice was the defensive player of the year. The Eagles orbited around White, a minister, a jokester, a big kid, and he was beloved in Philadelphia, even after he skipped to Green Bay.

White never liked to be defined by just one aspect of his life, and when he was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, he went in as an Eagle, a Packer and a Carolina Panther. He played for the Panthers for one season, in 2000, finishing his career as the NFL's all-time sack leader, with 198.

On Dec. 26, 2004, a week after turning 43 years old, White died in North Carolina.

Donovan McNabb never was subjected to White's rush. But he remembers being a young player in the league when White was on his way out. White was banged up, and older, and still very much feared.

"The visualization of being in the pocket and knowing 92 was over there was scary," McNabb said. "I remember he was in Carolina, he was banged up a little bit, and I was coming into the league, and all I thought was, 'Are you serious?' "

If White were playing today, McNabb suggested one way to counteract him:

"I would take Jon Runyan out to eat a lot that week, and tell him, 'Just hold him. I'll take the penalties, just keep him off me.' "

It would take more than that to keep White away.

- Ashley Fox

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