Aftermath of White injury in '95 Packers-Bengals game led to 'miracle'
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - Nearly two decades ago, the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals met in a late season tussle that led to another monumental moment for Hall of Fame Defensive End Reggie White.
It didn't look that way after he was knocked out of the 24-10 win on December 3, 1995 with a hamstring-related injury.
After trailing early, the second half turned into what seemed to be a typical win for an up-and-coming team.
That was, until the game-clinching interception by Leroy Butler became a moment of fear for the team's future when the Minister of Defense, Reggie White, went out of the game with what was thought to be a potentially season-ending hamstring injury.
He missed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game the next week, a loss that put the Packers in a more perilous playoff position.
Most thought White would miss the team's postseason push.
But then, in White's belief and the belief of many around Packers Planet, a miracle led to his return.
"I can't explain it. I can't explain why it didn't hurt as bad as it it," explained White about White's incredible return to action less than two weeks after the injury..
"Don't ask me to explain all this. You can't explain it, really," said his coach Mike Holmgren.
White reportedly called Holmgren, explained that his hamstring had healed, and after testing it and working out on it, he decided he would play the next game against the New Orleans Saints.
"We put him through a normal workout, and his leg was not sore," Holmgren said at the time.
"It responded. He was fast. He was confident."
"Something miraculous happened, to me at least, and I thank God for it," said White.
Some thought the miracle actually came from a misdiagnosis.
"The actual tear is to a muscle that is connected to a hamstring...it's not a torn hamstring, per se," said Bill Scott during Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Packers Gameday pregame show that day. He still plays a key role on that show today.
"(White's) muscle definition around the area is so strong. It's not 100 percent by any means, not an ideal situation, but apparently, it's enough that Reggie can get on the field and play."
White didn't start the game against Saints, but on the first 3rd down passing situation of the day, you heard then-Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Voice of the Packers," the late Jim Irwin, utter "Some guy wearing No. 92 is in at left end right now on a 3rd down passing down."
"He refuses to limp. He is not limping," said his color commentator, the late Max McGee.
"He's a tough guy," added Irwin.
The tough-guy "Minister of Defense" didn't record a sack in the game, but his mere presence helped the Packers' defense get to Jim Everett twice.
The offense took care of the rest, and clinched a playoff berth.
Brett Favre spread his four touchdown passes around, with Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman and Anthony Morgan catching his scoring throws in a 34-23 Packers victory.
The next week, Green Bay clinched its first division title in 23 years, and they eventually got to the NFC Championship Game - partially thanks to what the "Minister of Defense" believed to be a miracle.
"I just praise God," said White after the victory over the Saints.
"I got real emotional because God saw fit to do it for me again, to give me the opportunity. When I have a five-year-old kid coming up to me to tell me he prayed for me, that means something's going on."