Archive for Saturday, July 22, 2000

Panthers coax White out of retirement

July 22, 2000

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— Reggie White, the NFL's career sacks leader, agreed in principle Friday with the Carolina Panthers to come out of retirement and play again this season.
"We've got most of it worked out," White said outside of the Panthers' training camp facility. "Hopefully it will all be done by Monday."
White, 38, met with Panthers all day Friday. He passed a physical in Charlotte, then traveled 80 miles to training camp for a workout and a meeting with coach George Seifert.
His agent, Jimmy Sexton, said several procedural issues still needed to be worked out with the Panthers, and the Green Bay Packers still had to release him. Because White had one year left on his contract with the Packers when he retired after the 1998 season, they still hold his rights.
Sexton said the deal with Carolina was worked out after the NFL's 4 p.m. deadline for the Packers to release him. He said he expected all the formalities to be taken care over the weekend and would be "shocked" if White wasn't in uniform Monday morning.
The deal is a five-year contract worth about $20 million with several performance incentives based on Carolina's defensive improvement.
The Panthers' defense ranked 26th in the league last year and had only 35 sacks. White has 1921/2 sacks in 14 seasons.
Adding White was Seifert's latest attempt to bolster the defensive line. White will join newcomers Chuck Smith from Atlanta and Jay Williams from St. Louis to add quarterback pressure.
"I just felt that this was the right opportunity," White said. "I think we can do something here and I can make a difference."
White was The Associated Press' NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1998, his final season. He played in two Super Bowls and 13 Pro Bowls.
White said a large part of his decision to play for the Panthers was based on location.
He owns property near Charlotte and is building a home there, which he has said would be his permanent residence.
White, who is an ordained minister, is also involved in the Charlotte-based Morningstar Ministries and said he has been looking at property in the area to build a biblical theme park.
"Having the opportunity to come here, with living here, gave me the opportunity to settle my family," he said. "It's very convenient. Charlotte seemed to be a special place, a spiritual place."
White said he took all of 1999 off and rested, but had been working out all of this year in anticipation of coming back into the league. He said he was in great shape and made it through the Panthers' workout fine.
"But if they went 10 minutes longer I think I might have fainted," he joked.
Seifert said White would most likely be used as a role player, coming in as a pass rush specialist on passing downs.
"We would be looking at Reggie at a specialized player used in a specialized defense. But I can speculate where I'd play him you would need him as a pass rusher," he said. "But we're not asking him to be Ronnie Lott. We would just want him to make plays on the ball and get the guy down."
White said he had no problem being a role player.
"I always expect to play at a high level, but hopefully the city and the players won't expect me to come in and be the savior," he said.
Carolina still has to work out NFL salary cap issues. The Panthers have less than $200,000 to spend under the cap and would likely need to restructure contracts, and possibly even cut a player, to clear the room needed to sign White.

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