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Packers Still Shocked By White's Death


The Green Bay Packers returned to work Wednesday still expressing shock at the death of Reggie White, a defensive star and inspirational leader when he was with the Packers from 1993-98.

White, 43, died after being taken to a hospital in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday -- just two days after the Packers clinched their third consecutive championship of the NFC North Division with a 34-31 win at Minnesota on Christmas Eve.

Coach Mike Sherman gave his players a four-day break following the game, so Wednesday was the first time they were back together since the death.

"I'm shocked that Reggie White has passed away. I don't know if I'll ever quite accept that,'' quarterback Brett Favre said after practice.

"It hurts. I miss the guy,'' said right guard Marco Rivera, a former teammate. "But, it won't hit me until I see him Thursday, and then it's really going to sink in.''

Favre, Rivera, Sherman and team president Bob Harlan are part of a contingent of executives, staff members and veteran players planning to take a chartered plane Thursday to attend the private memorial service for White in Charlotte.

"Football is football. But we're talking about Reggie White passing away,'' Rivera said. "We need to go down there and pay our final respects. He's a legend. He will go down as one of the greatest defensive linemen of all time. One of the best people I've ever known.''

Also planning to attend are fullback William Henderson, safety Darren Sharper, kicker Ryan Longwell, long snapper Rob Davis, center Mike Flanagan and quarterback Doug Pederson. Retired Packers Gilbert Brown, Mark Chmura and Frank Winters also are to make the trip.

White is the Packers' career sacks leader with 68 1/2 and ranks second all-time in the NFL with 198.

After signing with Green Bay as the league's first marquee free agent in 1993, he became a catalyst in the team's resurrection as a championship contender after two decades of lean years, ending in a Super Bowl victory after the 1996 season and a runnerup finish the next year.

The White family asked Favre to be a pallbearer.

It's the third time in little more than a year that Favre has had to bury someone with whom he's been close. His father, Irvin, died of a heart attack Dec. 21 last year, a day before Favre guided the Packers to a 41-7 win at Oakland.

On Oct. 6, Favre's brother-in-law, Casey Tynes, died from injuries in an all-terrain-vehicle accident on Favre's property outside Hattiesburg, Miss. A week later, Favre's wife, Deanna, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It will be difficult tomorrow,'' Favre said. "To say I've gone through it in the last year is an understatement. I don't know if that ever makes it any better because I don't think that ever becomes easy. I'm as shocked as anyone and still will be.''

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