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Reggie White

A Church Burning

In addition to playing football, White became an associate pastor at an evangelical church in an inner-city area of Knoxville, Tennessee. With a congregation of about 450, the church focused on community development; members rebuilt condemned houses for resale to low-income people, and also built homes that low-income people could afford. The church also ran an AM radio station with religious programming, and planned to create a daycare center. White donated $1 million to the project, and in 1994 the church opened an investment bank, which makes loans to people who couldn't qualify for traditional bank loans. The bank also run seminars in job skills and financial planning, and provides credit to small-business owners. White told Howard that the church's goal was to "get people off welfare and help them become tax-paying citizens." White and his wife also opened a home for unwed mothers on their own property, near their home.


1961 Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee
1979-83 Plays for University of Tennessee
1983-84 Plays with Memphis Showboats of USFL
1985 Signs with Philadelphia Eagles
1993 Leaves Eagles; signed by Green Bay Packers
1996 Inner City Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, where White was assistant pastor, is burned to the ground as a result of arson
1997 Helps Packers win Super Bowl XXXI
1998 Loses potential job at CBS Sports after making remarks about homosexuality and race
1999 Retires from play; Packers retire his number, 92
2000 Comes back to play for Carolina Panthers

Awards and Accomplishments

1986-98 Pro Bowl player
1997 Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl
1997-98 Named top defensive player in NFL
1998 Associated Press Player of the Year
1999 Green Bay Packers retire his number, 92

On January 8, 1996, White's church was burned to the ground; someone had placed kerosene, gunpowder, and several Molotov cocktails in the church, lit them, and fled, leaving racist graffiti behind. The burning angered White, and aroused him to speak on television, radio, and in print about the event, as well as several other church-burnings that had occurred. He and his family subsequently received racist letters and a bomb threat that later turned out to be a hoax. White told Howard, "[I'm] willing to die for the things I believe in." White, who often refers to civil rights history, insists that the African-American struggle against slavery and racism should be remembered. "If you remember it…" he told Howard, "then you begin to say, 'This can't happen anymore.'" And, he commented, "Then you'll begin to understand why I hurt like I hurt. And why I get so mad." After the burning, White's church moved to a nearby high school auditorium; by June of 1996, more than $250,000 had been donated to help the church rebuild.

In 1997, White finally realized his one last NFL feat. The Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI. White was a terror on defense, recording three sacks and hurrying Patriots quarterback into four interceptions. Green Bay repeated as NFC champions the next season, but lost in Super Bowl XXXII to the Denver Broncos.

In 1998, White lost a chance to work as a commentator at CBS Sports when he made remarks about homosexuality and race that many people found offensive. According to an article in Jet, CBS Sports spokesperson said, "CBS has a hard and fast policy against bias at all times." When asked about the event later, White said, "Forget about me. I don't need your money."

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Famous Sports StarsFootballReggie White Biography - A Football Player And A Minister, A Church Burning, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Retired From Play - CONTACT INFORMATION