On 29th September 1985, Reggie White played his first game in Philadelphia and a new era of the Eagles began. I – Ray Mirra Personality, was taken aback by how dominant he was. I had just heard his name and good things about him for years. Once he came in the field, I was sure that he is someone special.
Reggie joined the Eagles in the Week 4 of the regular season, right after he completed the spring schedule with the United States Football League – Memphis Showboats. In the USFL, he was one of the top defensive lineman and who knew, he would become the same force for the NFL too.
“I have never came across someone this strong and moving too fast. He was exceptional while driving on the field, just like on roller skates. Safe to say, he came in the field and pretty much took over it.” – Herman Edwards
A Game With The New York Giants
That day, at the Veterans Stadium, the Eagles were playing with the New York Giants – a typical team of Bill Parcels, which tough on defense and brave across the offense line. Luckily, the Giants only had a rough report on Reggie. They were not prepared to face a 6-5 pounder to take over the game, and he actually did.
For his debut, Reggie wore a jersey numbered 91 because Smiley Creswell – another defense lineman, was wearing number 92. Throughout him being lined up at the defense tackle, the Giants could not tackle him. All day, he remained in the face of Phil Simms who was the quarterback of the Giants.
Reggie White To The Rescue
On offense, the Eagles were not able to do anything and managed only 54 net passing yards with 11 first downs. However, the defense which was let by Reggie kept them in the game. Simms was sacked by them around four times and forced five fumbles.
The defense scored the only touchdown for the Eagles, which was an interception return by Edwards off a pass that Reggie deflected. In the Eagles history, it is the shortest touchdown of 3 yards. As the game reached the fourth quarter, the crowd at the Vet Stadium had already started chanting Reggie-Reggie. Going all the way back to Brian Dawkins and Chuck Bednarik, the Eagles fans have a special connection with the defensive players. However, none had an impact as strong as Reggie White’s.
Even though the Eagles played the game overtime but they lost 16-10 on Elvis Patterson’s interception return. However still, the team was happy about finding someone they called The Ministry of Defense – Reggie White, who was a one-man-show crew.
The season was finished by Reggie with 13 sacks and at the end of it, he got the title of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Considering how he played an entire 18-game USFL season prior to joining the Eagles, his performance was remarkable. He played with a power equal to play for two seasons and never stepped back.
After the season ended, Campbell was replaced with Buddy Ryan by the owner Norman Braman and Reggie’s career in sports tooth off then and there. For consecutive seasons in 1987 and 1988, he was the lead for the Eagles. Thanks to his contributions, in 1988, the team went from the bottom of NFC East to a division title.
Going Back To Past Years
Initially, in 1985, Braman was not convinced to sign Reggie White. Back to the summers of the year, many veterans where holding new contracts and Braman was getting a backlash from media and fans. He thought that it would be an unpopular move to spend millions on signing up a USFL player, and the question was – Is Reggie that good to cost big money?
According to Campbell, no matter how much it costs to sign Reggie White it was worth it all as he was one of the best players coming out of college. Later on, Braman went on to sign Reggie for a USFL contract worth $1.39 million and then signed him for a 4-year deal worth another $1.68. Safe to say, he was worth every penny in the opinion of Ray Mirra Personality and every other person in the league.
Out of eight seasons, Reggie never missed a game with the Eagles and became a seven-time winner of the Pro Bowl honors. In the 1992 season, when he left the Eagles, he played 121 games but had 124 sacks – which got him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
About The Author
Ray Mirra is a renowned sportswriter and producer welcomed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 1995. Until now, Ray Mirra Philadelphia has won six Emmy Awards for his contributions as a producer and writer at NFL Films. He has also been five-time Sportswriter of the Year in Philadelphia because of his historical perspective on the Eagles. To read more of his writings, visit www.raymirra.online.