30 Jul 1949 1
06 Jun 2008 1

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Full Name:
Dwight L White 1
30 Jul 1949 1
06 Jun 2008 1
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Dwight White, 58, Mad Dog of Vaunted Steel Curtain, Is Dead

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Dwight White, the Steel Curtain defensive end known as Mad Dog who helped lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to fourSuper Bowl titles in the 1970s, died here on Friday. He was 58.

The Steelers said White died after surgery at a Pittsburgh hospital, but did not disclose the cause.

White is the second member of the original four-man Steel Curtain to die this year. Defensive tackle Ernie Holmes died Jan. 17 in a car accident in Texas. The others in the foursome were defensive tackle Joe Greene and defensive end L. C. Greenwood.

White — who played in two Pro Bowls, in 1972 and ’73 — gained his nickname because of his intensity. He was best known for climbing out of a hospital bed to play in the Steelers’ first Super Bowl victory, 16-6, over the Minnesota Vikings in 1975. He lost 18 pounds after learning he had pneumonia and a lung infection, yet played nearly the entire game.

White, who stood 6 feet 4 inches and weighed 250 pounds, made three tackles and gave up no yards as the Vikings ran seven of their first eight running plays his way. Minnesota went on to finish with only 17 yards rushing on 21 attempts. White also accounted for the only points of the first half when he tackled Fran Tarkenton in the end zone for a safety.

White’s 46 sacks from 1971 to 1980 are the seventh most in Steelers history. He had 33 ½ sacks from 1972 to 1975, with 3 in the Steelers’ 21-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the 1976 Super Bowl. He also played on the Steelers’ championship teams in 1979 (again defeating Dallas) and 1980 (defeating the Los Angeles Rams).

White joined the Steelers as a fourth-round draft pick from East Texas State (now Texas A&M-Commerce), where he had been a first-team all-Lone Star Conference player and a team captain. The oldest of three children, he grew up in Hampton, Va., and Dallas. Survivors include his wife, Karen, and their daughter, Stacey, according to the Steelers’ Web site.

White retired after the 1980 season and became active in community affairs and charities. He was the chairman of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

He also became a successful stockbroker in Pittsburgh. Most recently, he was the senior managing director of public finance for Mesirow Financial in Pittsburgh. Before that, he was a partner and principal operator of the Pittsburgh office of W. R. Lazard & Co. and worked for the investment firms Balche-Halsey and Daniels & Bell.

“Let’s just say, like Yogi Bear used to say, I’m smarter than the average bear,” White told the Pittsburgh author Jim O’Brien in 1991.

Steel Curtain's 'Mad Dog' dies Dwight White shook off pneumonia to star in Super Bowl IX

By Gerry Dulac / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Joe Greene remembered Dwight White as a person who could always make him laugh. Mike Wagner remembered him for the time he came out of the hospital bed, stricken with pneumonia, to play in Super Bowl IX. Jack Ham recalled the way he was always yapping at and agitating offensive lineman with that high-pitched voice, one of the reasons he was called "Mad Dog."

"You talk about a guy who set the tone for trash-talking," said Mr. Ham, a Hall of Fame linebacker. "He had to be in great condition because, besides playing for 60 minutes, he talked a great game for 60 minutes."

"His motor was high-rev," said Mr. Wagner, a former teammate and safety. "As hard as he played, his mouth worked even harder. He always amazed me he had so much energy."

Mr. White, a defensive end who fit in with the other colorful characters in the famed Steel Curtain defense that helped produce four Super Bowl championships during the 1970s, died yesterday at the age of 58. The news shocked many of his teammates who remembered Mr. White for his youthful exuberance and emotional spirit during his 10-year playing career with the Steelers.

According to Mr. Greene, a Hall of Fame defensive tackle, Mr. White had back surgery May 12, then was hospitalized a couple weeks later with a blood clot in his lung. Mr. Greene said his former teammate had shown signs of improvement before his health declined.

"Dwight always found a way to make you laugh, you know," said Mr. Greene, who was Mr. White's roommate on the road. "Underneath all that was a serious person, but he could fill up a room for sure. He lived in Dallas for a short period of time. I'd visit him and he'd visit me. He was like a little brother."

Mr. White played with the Steelers from 1971 to 1980 after being a fourth-round draft choice from East Texas State and ranks seventh on the team's all-time list with 46 career sacks.

However, he is best known for his performance in the team's first Super Bowl victory when he played against the Minnesota Vikings despite being hospitalized nearly the entire week with pneumonia. But Mr. White did more than just play: He was credited with a safety when he tackled Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone after a fumbled handoff, giving the Steelers a 2-0 lead en route to a 16-6 victory

"He looked like he came out of a concentration camp with that pneumonia," Mr. Ham said. "You talk about everybody rallying around something. I could not believe he played that game. That was a phenomenal thing. He had such a resolve. I don't know how he did it."

The following year, Mr. White had three of the Steelers seven sacks against Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X, helping to lead his team to back-to-back championships.

"Dwight was going to make life miserable for anybody who didn't have our jersey on," Mr. Wagner said. "That's the way he played football."

"Dwight White was one of the greatest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform," said Steelers chairman Dan Rooney. "He played with a relentlessness that led us to four Super Bowl titles in the 1970s. Dwight refused to be denied."

Mr. White's death comes five months after the death of defensive tackle Ernie Holmes, who played alongside Mr. White in what many consider one of the greatest front fours in the National Football League. But they were not only good, they were animated, each with a nickname that only enhanced their reputation -- Mad Dog, Fats, Mean Joe and Hollywood Bags (L.C. Greenwood).

"I'm just kind of shocked," said Mr. Greenwood. "We were all very close. We weren't just teammates, we were very close friends."

Mr. White served as senior managing director of public finance for Mesirow Financial in Pittsburgh and was involved with numerous charities, including the Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, the Boy Scouts of America, PACE School and Rebuilding Pittsburgh. He was also a member of the board of trustees for Seton Hill University and was a board member of the Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh, a non-profitagency that serves people with vision loss.

In addition, Mr. White, a Democrat, had campaigned for Gov. Ed Rendell and served as chairman of the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

"Dwight was not only a world-class athlete, he was a thoughtful and outspoken individual who cared deeply about his family, his community, and his state," Mr. Rendell said in a statement. "His NFL nickname, Mad Dog, belied the fact that he was a true gentleman and an accomplished business leader."

Mr. White and his wife Karen, as co-chairs of a fund raising campaign, had been extremely instrumental in raising more than $28 million for the construction of the new August Wilson Center for African American Culture, said Neil Barclay, president and CEO of the center.

"Dwight's enthusiasm, dedication and commitment played an integral role in the success of the center. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time," Mr. Barclay said.

In addition to his wife Karen, Mr. White is also survived by a daughter, Stacey. Funeral services are scheduled for noon Wednesday at Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Mr. White's memory be sent to The August Wilson Center of African American Culture at 425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1750, Pittsburgh, 15219.

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