The late Reggie White joined other NFL greats as members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. While the cheers were loud and the testimonials meaningful for Warren Moon, John Madden, Rayfield Wright, Troy Aikman, and Harry Carson, the crowd's passion was reserved for Reggie.
When master of ceremonies Chris Berman introduced White's widow, Sara, and when White's son, Jeremy, presented his father, the fans chanted his name. It didn't matter if they were wearing Packers or Eagles green — a collection of current Eagles, including Donovan McNabb, sat in the crowd wearing White's No. 92 — or even Cowboys, Giants or Oilers blue or Raiders black.
A contingent from the Green Bay Packers - several front-office executives, football operations staff, executive committee members, quarterback Brett Favre and long-snapper Rob Davis - departed Green Bay very early Saturday morning and arrived in Canton at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT. The Packers hosted a private brunch, where the traveling party was able to spend quality time with White's family, including his wife, Sara, and children, Jeremy and Jecolia. At Sara's request, just prior to the family's departure, Favre posed for a picture with Jeremy. Former general manager Ron Wolf and several of White's former teammates, including Sean Jones, Bruce Wilkerson and Santana Dotson, also were present at the brunch.
The contingent had to depart before Sara's induction speech at about 3:15 p.m. (CT) because the group felt an obligation to return to Green Bay, where the team is hosting its annual Family Night intra-squad scrimmage in Lambeau Field.
Many of the fans in the crowd were there for Reggie where they all stood and cheered for the Minister of Defense, including Troy Aikman, Dallas' three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.
"I too am saddened by the absence of Reggie White, a great player and a man who left us too soon," Aikman said in concluding the inductions. "It's an honor to be a member of the Hall of Fame class that includes five men I have so much admiration and respect for. They played the game the way it should be played, and John Madden coached the game the same way."
Jeremy and Sara White shared tears and a long hug after unveiling Reggie's bust before a rapt audience. Jeremy was White's presenter and Sara accepted the Hall of Fame honor. White is the 21st Packer to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Only the Chicago Bears (26 enshrinees) have more players in the Hall of Fame.
White, who died in December 2004, was an ordained minister as well as an NFL superstar. White was a two-time defensive player of the year who made 13 straight Pro Bowls. He was the career sacks leader with 198 when he retired — Bruce Smith since has passed him — and won a Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1997 after starting his illustrious career in the USFL, then moving to Philadelphia.
"It's not how we die, it's how we live," Sara White said. "I encourage you to live like Reggie lived."
"Reggie was not phony. Reggie stood for what he believed in. Whatever you believe in, you stand on your principles. We knew Reggie's history in football. His legacy will live on through you."