Reggie White

UT Knoxville, ’90

Reggie White in his orange Tennessee Volunteer uniform

Everything Reggie White pursued, he did with intentionality, mindful of the legacy he hoped to leave behind.

“Most people don’t live like how they want to be remembered,” says his daughter, Jecolia White (Knoxville ’10). “Dad did. He was committed to everything he did, especially his family, friends and his faith.”

At the age of 17, White set out to be a man of God, and he was determined to use football to share his faith.

“When I worked at UT, I remember talking to Phil Simms, whose son, Matt, was playing for Tennessee,” Jecolia White says. “He said, ‘You know, your dad sacked me more times than anyone else. He would hit me hard, just pummel me, and then as he was helping me up he would say, ‘God bless you.’ That was Dad.”

White, popularly known as the “Minister of Defense,” helped the Green Bay Packers win the 1996 championship in Super Bowl XXXI with a game-ending sack. He also was selected as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and 1998.

While terrorizing quarterbacks on the field made Reggie famous, off the field he was better known for devotion to his family.

“Outside of traveling to away games, we did everything as a family,” Jecolia White says. “Dad was adamant about eating as a family, praying together, everything. He was so devoted to us and intentional with his time that he wouldn’t sign autographs when he was with us, unless it was a kid asking.”

In football and in life, most who knew him agreed White gave all he had. He died in 2004.

Part of the Tennessee Alumnus100 Distinguished Alumni feature.