Yes, time does fly. It's hard to believe that Reggie White is not only gone from Green Bay but gone from this earth as well. His untimely death last Dec. 26 is still difficult to comprehend. Reggie's impact on this team and on the entire state of Wisconsin will be felt for a long, long time. Whether you agreed or disagreed with politics, the fact is Reggie never hesitated to speak his mind. He was a man of character. You always knew where he stood. He spoke from the heart. He led his teammates on and off the field by example. He constantly reminded them of the importance of being in this thing together. Somehow, I picture him gleefully running around in heaven right now, still clutching that Super Bowl trophy over his head.
White will definitely be missed and that's why I was as pleased as anyone to learn of the Packers' decision to retire his number during halftime ceremonies of their Sept. 18 home opener against the Cleveland Browns. He will join a very exclusive club because in the long history of the storied Packer franchise, only four players have been so honored: Don Hutson (14), Tony Canadeo (3), Ray Nitschke (66) and Bart Starr (15). Those numbers grace the stadium wall above Lambeau Field's north end zone, a permanent testimony to their greatness. Number 92 surely belongs right beside them.
We don't need to recount all of the statistics and records held by White here. Besides, Reggie White was much larger than statistics – even football itself. He was a man among men. He set a character standard for future players to emulate. Those of us who had the privilege of meeting him and watching him play will always remember how unique and how special he was. We'll remember how his presence made other fine ballplayers suddenly get the urge to play in Green Bay. We'll remember how he practically willed the Packers to win Super Bowl XXXI and finally get the ring he had been chasing his entire career.
Most of all, we'll just plain miss him.
Editor's Note: Tom Andrews began covering the Packers in 1974 as a reporter for Milwaukee radio stations WZUU and WOKY. He has been a contributing writer to Packer Report since 1999 and his articles have also appeared in the Green Bay Packers Yearbook, Packer Profiles, Packer Tracker and Sports Collectors Digest among other publications. Andrews is also president of Andrews Media Ventures, a Milwaukee area media and communications consultancy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.