27 years ago today, the Packers made a franchise-altering move that helped propel them towards the top of the league. On April 7th, 1993, Green Bay officially signed pass-rusher Reggie White to a four-year, $17MM deal (hat tip to @HistoricPackers on Twitter).
After starting his professional career in the United States Football League, White spent eight years in Philly. He quickly became one of the best players in the NFL, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1987 and earning Pro Bowl nods each year between 1986 and 1992. White is still the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks.
By the time the 1993 offseason came around, White found himself as a free agent, and he predictably had a number of suitors. The Packers, Redskins, and Browns all made a run at the defensive end, and there was some belief that free-wheeling Washington would sign the future Hall of Famer. However, the Packers ended up emerging with the best offer, and it didn’t take long for White to pounce.
While the $4.25MM average annual salary seems paltry in 2020, it actually made White the third high-paid player at the time (behind Broncos quarterback John Elway ($4.75MM) and Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino ($4.43MM)). Of course, it wasn’t just money that led White to Green Bay. As agent Jimmy Sexton explained, head coach Mike Holmgren and defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes made the effort to visit the player’s family in Tennessee.
“It was huge,” Sexton said (via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). “They were smart enough and perceptive enough to know that Reggie was a relationship guy. They sold him on the fact that it’s like a big college atmosphere. He was coming out of a place where it wasn’t fun for him the last couple years.
“But if I had to pick one thing he liked most about Green Bay, Holmgren was it.”
White continued to dominate during his stint with the Packers. In six seasons, he compiled 68.5 sacks, which made him the franchise leader in that category (he’s since been passed by Clay Matthews and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila).
More importantly, the pass rusher (alongside a young Brett Favre) helped catapult the Packers atop the standings. Green Bay made the playoffs during each of White’s six seasons with the team, including three division titles. He also led the team to a pair of Super Bowls, including a Super Bowl XXXI victory over the Patriots.
Despite winning his second Defensive Player of the Year award in 1998, White temporarily retired. He returned during the 2000 season and played all 16 games for the Panthers. At the time of his second retirement, White was the all-time leader in sacks (he’s since been surpassed by Bruce Smith).
Still, what really cemented White’s legacy was the Super Bowl victory. Who knows if he would have reached that pinnacle if not for the transaction made 27 years ago today.