Sacking A Legacy


The Green Bay Packers and their fans might want to thank Reggie White's kids. That's because Jeremy (12 years old) and Jecolia (10) sealed the Minister of Defense's decision to come back this year, a year in which he leads the NFL in sacks with 15.

"The sign that God wanted me to come back was my kids," White says.

"I remember last year my daughter, I asked her at the dinner table about coming back, what would she want me to do? She said, 'Retire, Daddy, we want you to spend more time with us.'

"Well, I picked my kids up from school this year, and I told them, 'I think your dad's going to play one more year.' Both of them said, 'Yeah!' and they both cheered, so I knew that was the confirmation that I was supposed to come back."

And it's a good thing for the Packers he did. Now healthy, White is once again a dominant force, racking up 35 tackles, forcing four fumbles and batting down four passes.

"I'm having fun playing," White says, "and that's been the difference. I'm extremely happy."

So are the Packers. While his numbers are superb, Packers defensive line coach Larry Brooks says that they alone can't describe his full meaning to the team.

"As a coach, you'd like to have all the good, talented players you could possibly have," Brooks says. "But the thing I've noticed dealing with him is that he's a genuine good person, which sometimes doesn't go hand-in-hand. When you look at all the deeds he's done, and then all the accomplishments he's made as a player, it's impressive."

Brooks say White is as big a force in the locker room as he is on the field. That's no accident. White takes that role very seriously.

"If I can't be an example to the guys in the locker room and to my family," White says, "then I can't be to anybody else. Some people have a vision to save the world. I can only do what I can. I can only influence the guys here, and hope they influence other people."

One person he has influenced is rookie defensive end Vonnie Holliday. The on-field effects are obvious. Holliday leads the defensive line with 49 tackles and is second on the team with eight sacks. But Holliday says that's not all he's learned from the ordained minister.

"I know for me, sitting right next to him (in the locker room), I try to watch what I say," Holliday says. "I personally think what he does carries over and has a positive effect on how I approach everything."

Brooks says White's personality seems to rub off on everyone around the team.

"I think it's more his example of work ethic," Brooks says. "Mental toughness."

That toughness comes from White's undying belief in God and in himself, and it allows him to push through pain in the weight room and training room.

Allows him to get to the quarterback on key plays through sheer willpower.

Allows him to connect with other players in the locker room.

"The thing with Reggie," Holliday says, "is he'll talk with you and joke with you, but he's always trying to work in his positive message and the love of the Lord. Guys really watch what they say and do. I think that comes from him being there."

White says leaving that legacy is more important to him than getting nine-and-a-half more sacks to become the first player ever to reach 200 in NFL history. But for now, he's hung up his preaching robe until he's done wearing his jersey.

"Ministry will last forever," White says. "But right now I have a job to do.

"I'd like to get back and win another Super Bowl."

And leave a legacy of biblical proportions.

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