Friends Remember White At N.C. Funeral

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Flowers in the green and yellow of the Green Bay Packers and portraits of Reggie White flanked the NFL great's coffin during a private church funeral Thursday.

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre, a longtime teammate of White, was a pallbearer and led a contingent of about 50 members of the Packers organization at the University Park Baptist Church.

Former NFL player Eugene Robinson, with the Packers in 1996-97 and a teammate of White when both played with the Carolina Panthers in 2000, said the service was a mix of sadness and humor.

White played for the Packers from 1993-98 and helped Green Bay to a Super Bowl title in a victory over New England after the 1996 season. Green Bay lost to Denver in the championship game the following season.

"He's a huge part of our tradition,'' Packers president Bob Harlan said. "For us to come here and salute him, I hope it meant something to the family. It meant a great deal to us.''

The service included a quotation from former Packers coach Vince Lombardi that read, "The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence whatever his chosen field or endeavor.''

It also included a poem written by Jeremy White, Reggie's son, that ended with the lines, "Rest in peace my father. And now, God, guide me farther.''

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said White's example was significant during his final year in the NFL, when he played all 16 games of the 2000 season.

"We're fortunate that we had an opportunity to have him on our team, even though it was a short while,'' Richardson said.

Family friend Denise Hicks-Ray called those attending White's service "chosen ones.''

"We were all embracing his idea of love and camaraderie,'' she said.

White played for Philadelphia from 1985-92, and former Eagles player and minister Irving Fryar, who joined the team in 1996, said White encouraged his religious faith.

"Reggie was a seed planter in my life, as far as my Christianity and my belief, and me getting my act together,'' Fryar said.

Those thoughts were echoed by former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Erik Williams, who said he had his share of off-field troubles, but like Fryar, said White guided him without judging.

"I love Reggie White --a great person not only a great football player. I want to raise my kids to be like Reggie White,'' Williams said.

White had spent the past nine months taking lessons in Hebrew at least twice a week and told NFL Films he spent as much as 10 hours per day studying the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.

Gospel music artist Bebe Winans sang two songs in White's honor, and brought laughter to the several hundred people gathered at the sanctuary with a story about phone conversations that White would begin by engaging Winans in a contest singing the national anthem.

"He would say, 'I beat you that time!''' Winans said. "And I would say, 'No, Reggie, that was the worst singing I ever heard.'''

Also attending the funeral were Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman and former general manager Ron Wolf, the man who signed White with the Packers as a free agent. Packers players making the trip included kicker Ryan Longwell, fullback William Henderson, guard Marco Rivera, safety Darren Sharper and long snapper Rob Davis.

White was selected to 13 consecutive Pro Bowls between 1986 and 1998. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year for his career at Tennessee and elected to the NFL's 75th anniversary all-time team.

"He's one of those pillars of the NFL that you just don't ever see going down. It's just hard to believe,'' said Keith Jackson, who played with White in Philadelphia and Green Bay.

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