Sports

Number 92, The Greatest Of All Time

Chris Surrency

Think about the current landscape of the NFL and NCAA, take a look at all the players who step on the field at the defensive end position. The players these days are in incredible shape and have some of the most insane measurable stats that you’ll find at times. You see a J.J. Watt or Jadeveon Clowney, even a Julius Peppers, these men are absolute monsters that steamroll offensive lineman on a fairly regular basis. When you look at where we stand today you almost assume a defensive end is going to be a speedy behemoth, if your team takes anyone at the position under 280 pounds your first thought is usually the guy is likely a linebacker. In order to reach this level though, you had to have a starting point, essentially a prototype for what future players in the position should be graded against. There have been dynamic players across the board in the NFL, iconic players have come along every so often, but players who create the mold all others should conform to are incredibly rare. If you’re looking for the prototype of the modern defensive end, the search starts and stops with one man, The Minister of Defense, Reggie White.

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Reggie White was one of the most feared defensive ends in the league during his playing days. White could control a game by himself from the defensive end position, he had insane strength and would just toss around offensive lineman with ease, which helped him become one of the most prolific pass rushers in the history of the NFL. Reggie was basically a more well rounded J.J. Watt well before Watt’s time in the league. While he was never the modern day power lifter looking defensive end, although he was a larger man, he was athletically gifted enough to have a 40-yard dash in the 4.6 second range. White was also a master of the different techniques required to become a solid pass rusher such as the rip, swim, and club moves. White was so proficient with the “club” method that he had his own variation, the Hump Move. With this move White was able to embarrass many an offensive lineman during his time in the league. Again, he had ridiculous strength, one of his more popular clips is the time he tossed Larry Allen aside with one hand during a game. In case you were unaware, Allen was the man who held the bench rep record at the NFL Combine for years, he was also 6’3″ and over 320 lbs. As you can imagine, tossing someone of those dimensions around is no small feat. If you were playing defensive end growing up, this was the man to watch and emulate if you had any aspirations to succeed at the position.

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Due to his incredible power and uncharacteristic speed at his size, White went on to set the bar that all other defensive ends after him are measured against. When Watt got on a tear recently comparisons were made almost instantly about his run versus White, and questioning if he may be the “next Reggie White.” Between 1985 and 2000 Reggie White got after the quarterback so often that he set the career high for sacks at 198, a number it took Bruce Smith an extra 3 years to surpass, with the man in third sitting at just 160 from Kevin Greene. If you look at the top 20 players on the career sack list there are 8 defensive ends who came in after White that could be said to have been following his mold at the position. The impact of a Reggie White on how teams view the defensive end position is obvious, the man left behind one hell of a legacy as an Eagle and then a Super Bowl champion in Green Bay, even helping out as a leader in his final year with Carolina before officially retiring for good after the 2000 season. While some may say his 198 sacks is an inflated number due to his one year retirement before coming to Carolina, remember he only had 5 and half sacks that last year, meaning he still had over 190 before that first retirement.

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I know it’s unfair to just look at a player and mention the positives of their time, seemingly glossing over a “darker side” to them, something White clearly did have. As a Baptist minister, a man who had deep religious roots, White had issues with homosexuality and even took out ads against gay marriage. He also had a bit of a point where he made some pretty inflammatory comments about almost every race under the sun. Clearly he was a flawed human, we all are at the end of the day, you can’t really hold those off field issues against him when looking at his career. Hell, stacking White’s baggage up against most players of today who have off field controversies the man is damn near squeaky clean. In all honesty we may never see a true “next Reggie White,” the closest currently may be someone like J.J. Watt, but he’s paving his own way, and the Injuries he’s suffered lately aren’t helping his numbers. You could possibly argue the case of Julius Peppers, but he’s more along the lines of a super sized Kevin Greene as a Linebacker/Defensive End hybrid. To this day, if you want to play end at the highest levels your learning starts with watching film on Reggie White, there just isn’t anyone else who can match his balance of grace and destruction on the field, and likely will never be another.

Chris Surrency

Chris Surrency is an aspiring author and article writer with opinions on many different topics. He fell in love with writing as a child in elementary school and has taken any occasion possible to let the words that roll around in his head come out whether it be in a notebook or on a computer. Chris got his first opportunity to write online at WWENews.net, a subsidiary site for Wrestling News World, posting opinion pieces. He later joined the Yahoo Contributor's Network, covering many topics from science to video games and back to sports, and almost all points in between, he posted well over one hundred articles up until the moment Yahoo dismantled the network. Since that time he's provided content to different sites online, written his first novel, and eventually made his way to MCXV where he's finally capturing the enjoyment he once found while writing at Yahoo once again.