- The Washington Times - Friday, December 31, 2004

We were saddened to hear of the passing of legendary defensive lineman Reggie White, who died unexpectedly in his sleep last Sunday. The apparent cause was a respiratory disease that triggered a fatal heart attack. He was 43 years old.

White will be remembered not just for his on-field heroics but for his outspoken, controversial opinions and his deep Christian faith. His athletic achievements alone would have ensured his legacy: He retired in 2000 as the career leader in sacks after 15 seasons with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina, was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was elected to the Pro Bowl for a record 13 consecutive years, from 1986 to 1998. “He may have been the best player I’ve ever seen and certainly was the best I’ve ever played with or against,” Green Bay Packers Quarterback Brett Favre told Sports Illustrated this week.

White’s reputation as a man of great faith and committed opinion was assured, too. An ordained minister, he founded a home for unwed mothers on his own property in 1991 and was also a founder of the ministry Christian Athletes United for Spiritual Empowerment. He was famous for his frequent and unabashed references to his faith and to God’s role in his life, particularly his tendency to explain career moves with reference to God’s will. Later, in 1998, he was attacked in the national media for controversial remarks he made on homosexuality — calling it “one of the biggest sins in the Bible.” He was pilloried in some quarters and depicted as a racist.

There was much more to Mr. White than the controversy. Friends and teammates remember a deeply religious man who went out of his way to help those around him. As a friend put it: “Reggie lived the essence and the spirit of life by faith. The entire family and our extended families have cherished and will continue to cherish every moment and memory of him. Thank you all for your love and for your thoughtful prayers.”

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