Cheeseheads mocking Reggie provide real divine intervention

A higher power has intervened, but not in the way Reggie White might have thought.
The “Minister of Defense” shocked many in Packerland last week when he announced his retirement. Nonetheless, it seemed a gracious bowout for one of the league’s greatest defensive ends of all time.
Highlight reels spun several of his 176 1/2 career quarterback takedowns. Much of the public seemingly forgot White’s manic montage at the Wisconsin Legislature, in which he sacked homosexuality and every ethnic group within earshot.
Then, two days after retiring, White un-retired. The ordained minister’s reason: God had spoken to him and told him to fulfill his promise to play one more year for Green Bay.
But the real force of this divine intervention didn’t come to light until the week that followed his stunning revival.
The reaction on the Minnesota side of the border was predictably that of scorn and laughter. Reggie’s back? I thought he retired a year ago.
What’s worthy of headlines is that the cumulative reaction from Camp Cheesehead was, on the whole, the same.
A Wisconsinite bad-mouthing a Packer — Reggie, at that — is truly an act of God. And getting purple and green to make anything other than black and blue is almost a harmonic convergence.
But that is what has happened. The occasional Randy-Wright-as-savior-hypnotized-head-bobbers notwithstanding, White has lost the admiration and respect of Packers fans.
The scope of that last statement reveals just how ridiculous he has become.
When White came to Green Bay as a free agent prior to the 1993 season, he was worshipped. As he helped turn the Packers from a laughingstock into a playoff contender, the love affair grew.
Then came the crescendo — a Super Bowl championship two years ago. In Green Bay’s run through the playoffs, White was a force.
Last year, things leveled off. He rested more and beat up on quarterbacks less. Reggie was no longer immortal, but he was still productive — until the Big Game, that is.
White’s stock dropped a couple of points after his no-show in Green Bay’s Super Bowl loss to Denver. Normally delusional fans conceded the big fella might have lost a step — the equivalent of a fan of any other team mourning the amputation of a money player.
Then came the legislative ramblings. Packer backers grew even more annoyed and the national media got all over Reggie’s ailing back.
Most Green Bay fans were overheard hoping he would retire gracefully and free up salary cap room to sign another defensive player. When the first announcement came down there was a sense of relief.
An excerpt from Lambeau headquarters: “Thanks for the memories. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Where’s my Rolodex?”
But White didn’t even get far enough out the door to worry. Before number crunchers could reconfigure the Packers’ cap room, Reggie was back.
I somewhat remember reading the story as it came across the AP wire. What I’ll never forget is the reaction of one of the newsroom’s foremost dairy boys: “What?”
It wasn’t a good what. There was no vocal inflection that said, “Hooray, he’s back.” In no way was there a facial expression that said, “I love you, Reggie.”
Eggo might appreciate his waffle, but fans didn’t. This was the straw that broke Reggie’s back.
Next year will be interesting. Fans’ praise for White’s dwindling defensive stops will be fainter. Their groans when a running back beats him to the corner will be louder.
It will be glorious.
The day many people dreamed of will soon be upon us. It will take until September, but the follies of an aging hero will give Packers fans — gasp — perspective!
Finally, proof there is a God.
— Michael Rand is the sports editor at The Daily. He welcomes comments at [email protected]