Favre will be pallbearer at White funeral

Brett Favre will be a pallbearer and several past and present members of the Green Bay Packers will attend Thursday's funeral for Reggie White.

White, Green Bay's all-time leading sacker, a future Hall of Famer and a community difference-maker, died Sunday at age 43.

"I'm shocked that Reggie White has passed away. I don't know if I'll ever quite accept that," Favre said after Wednesday's practice, the team's first since the Minnesota game.

Favre will be joined by Packers coach Mike Sherman and players Rob Davis, Mike Flanagan, William Henderson, Ryan Longwell, Doug Pederson, Marco Rivera and Darren Sharper. Also taking today's flight to Charlotte, N.C., will be Packers president Bob Harlan and former White teammates Gilbert Brown, Mark Chmura and Frank Winters.

"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."

A public viewing was held for White on Wednesday. Mourners and well-wishers, some wearing green-and-gold No. 92 White jerseys, arrived some 2 1/2 hours before the 3 p.m. memorial at A.L. Jinwright Funeral Service. More than 5,000 people were expected to pay their respects.

Among those attending was former NFL player Bill Bates. Bates was a longtime member of the Dallas Cowboys, who are a rival of White's first NFL team, Philadelphia.

"Reggie was just a great person," Bates told an Associated Press reporter. "Everyone knows what kind of ambassador he was for the NFL. He was a fun-loving guy."

Bates played collegiately at Tennessee with White. That perspective made White's rise to stardom a joy for Bates.

"It was fun for me to watch him mature," Bates said of their time at Tennessee. "When he first came there, he was so raw and young. To see the raw strength was incredible."

One of the first in line was fan Keith Onque.

"I've been a big fan of Reggie White ever since he went to college in Tennessee," Onque told a New York Times reporter. "Ambassador on the field and off the field. He was such a God-fearing man, and he deserved the honor and respect for us to come out here and to say farewell, and I love him."

Another of the first in line was fan Orlando Jenkins. He wore a replica of White's No. 92 Packers jersey, which he once wore with pride but gave to his stepson recently before taking back for the day.

"He was a very positive man," Jenkins said. "Everybody knows he was a minister, and he was trying to teach those other guys about life. It's real sad."

A huge memory card, featuring a photo of White, was filled with tributes from those in attendance. One simply said "God's Hall of Fame."

The White family, through family friend Shawn White, released a statement thanking fans and friends for their support. It read, in part: "Reggie lived the essence and the spirit of life by faith. The entire family and our extended families have cherished and will continue to cherish every moment and memory of him. Thank you all for your love and for your thoughtful prayers."

The White family asked Favre to be a pallbearer for Thursday's funeral. It's the latest sad day in a year of sad days for Favre. Just more than a year ago, on Dec. 21, Favre's father, Irvin, died. Within a week in October, Favre's brother-in-law died in an all-terrain vehicle accident and 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."

Same goes for the Packers organization, which this summer lost vice president of football operations Mark Hatley and longtime coach and scout John "Red" Cochran. Offensive coordinator Tom Rossley provided a scare with an emergency angioplasty five weeks into the regular season.

Meanwhile, Nick Barnett's father and Donald Driver's father-in-law died.

"It's almost numbing at this point," Sherman said.

The series of events has caused Sherman, who just turned 50, to evaluate his life.

"Before you turn 50, you always think, at least I did anyway, you're going to live forever," Sherman said. "But in that 49th year, you realize your own mortality. You just realize you're not here for a long time and you better take care of those things that are important to you."

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