William White, Former Detroit Lions Safety, Dead at 56

William White, a former NFL safety who spent the majority of his career with the Detroit Lions, died on Thursday night, the Lions announced. He was 56 years old. White, who also played for the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, was battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the time of his death. 

"I loved William," Lions special assistant to president/CEO Chris Spielman said in a statement. "We shared experiences of joy and sorrow on and off the field. He was and always will be my brother. I am forever grateful for the special moment last year when he was able to be by my side during the Pride of the Lions ceremony at Ford Field. I can't wait to see him again when he will be free from ALS. May God's peace rest upon his family."  

White's son, Brendan White, also paid tribute to his father. "I love you Dad! Keep watching down on us I know you gonna watch over and protect us. I promise with all my heart you'll see me in a NFL jersey as we promised each other!" he wrote. "We love and miss you! I promise to make you proud. U always taught me no one or thing determines my success."

William White was selected in the fourth round by the Lions in the 1988 NFL Draft. He was with the Lions until the end of the 1993 season, and his best season with the team was in 1990 when he recorded 106 tackles, five interceptions and one defensive touchdown. In 1994, White was traded to the Chiefs and was with the team for three seasons. He then joined the Falcons in 1997 and played on the Super Bowl team in 1998. During the 1998 season, White recorded 69 tackles, two interceptions and one fumble recovery. In his NFL career, White played in 170 games and recorded 721 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 20 interceptions. 


White played college football at Ohio State from 1984 to 1987. He was one of the four captains on the 1987 team and played on two Big Ten Championship teams. White helped Ohio State beat arch-rival Michigan in 1984 and 1987 and tallied three interceptions vs. West Virginia in 1987, which ties a school record.