Edmonton Eskimos legend Henry 'Gizmo' Williams was sitting at home watching TV when the news flashed across the screen. Reggie White, the man who gave Williams his nickname, was dead at the age of 43.
"I couldn't stop crying," Williams said yesterday of hearing the news Sunday.
"I was just in so much shock. You look at some things in life and you always wonder. You never question God but you wonder how come it's always the good people that go.''
Williams got to know White when he signed with the Memphis Showboats in 1985.
"Reggie was on his second year," recalled Williams. "If you ever watched Bill Cosby on TV, he was a Bill Cosby kind of guy.
"He was a true role model. He was the one that started the (ritual) of getting together and praying on the football field after the game.
"He was always preaching about being close as friends and brothers.''
Williams said he got his nickname when White took rookies - including himself - to the movies one night.
"Reggie was a true Christian man. Some guys went to the bars. He took the rookies out to see the movie Gremlins," said Williams.
"He said 'your name is going to be Gizmo.' At that time he was six foot four of solid muscle. I would've been his wife if he'd asked me to.''
Williams, who also played with White at Philadelphia in 1989, said he'll remember White as an unbelievable person on and off the field.
"His numbers can't even speak for him. I can remember playing in games where sometimes they would double team people. They triple-teamed Reggie," he said.
"He would take the game in his hands. But he was not only a good football player. He impacted a lot of people's lives.''
Williams said he spoke to White on the phone every six months or so. He knew White wasn't as fanatical as some about working out but he's shocked that his good friend died at such a young age.
Williams has been in touch with people close to the NFL great and he hopes to attend his funeral service.
"He was one of the biggest influences on my career,'' said Williams. "I'm still shocked. I'm 41, he was two years older than me. I'm going to miss him.''