My Elite Network: Why did you choose to attend University of California, Berkeley?
Ed White: I was trying to decide between UCLA, University of Washington, and Berkeley. I wanted to be an architect and Berkeley just felt right. It was in the 60’s and it was right in the midst of the Vietnam War. It was actually a peaceful time on campus, but, if there was a problem, just like now, people would show up from everywhere to protest…and some to stir up trouble. Sometimes there might be a couple of hundred people in a little plaza, beating on drums and yelling. It was blown out of proportion, but, for the most part it was a very peaceful time. At that time, Berkeley was getting a bad rap, so, it became hard to recruit football players. My parents were constantly worried about me. I would tell them that there’s nothing going on. I used to sketch the hippies and flower children, unfortunately, we lost our house in a fire about two years ago. We lived up in the mountains in this little town of about 5000 people. The fire destroyed our home and all our memories…all those sketches were lost.
My Elite Network: Your artwork is amazing. Where do you think that gift comes from?
Ed White: I’ve always been an artist, even as a small boy. I’ve loved painting, drawing, and sculpting. In high school, I was an artist and an athlete. I went from one sport to the other and it was exhausting. When I would come home after practice, I would study, eat, and then go to sleep. About 25 years after graduation, I went back to visit the principal and the vice principal… I saw that one of my paintings was still hanging in the hallway. I thought that was pretty cool.
My Elite Network: When you were you in high school, did your parents attend a lot of your games?
Ed White: My parents were very supportive… they did go to a lot of my games. My mother was a vocal fan…she had cowbells and her own cheering section. It was great that she was so excited to see her son play.
My Elite Network: Do you remember being drafted into the military?
Ed White: Oh yeah. I graduated from college and was playing for the Vikings when I got my draft card. It was in the offseason and I was in Southern California. The Vikings told me that they wouldn’t take me because I had screws in my legs. When I got there, it was like a cattle call – 100’s of young men. As I was getting ready to go to the last station … a guy calls me over. He tells me that I have deteriorating arthritis in my ankles…so, they turned me down. I did lose a bunch of friends in the War, and, I was ready to go.
My Elite Network: Do you have a favorite memory of being with the Viking?
Ed White: We didn’t get paid like they do now. So, all of us had jobs in the offseason. Most of us had families …so everybody knew each other really well. I don’t think that’s the same for today’s players. The memories I have are of Friday night’s in the offseason. Three or four of us, with our families, would go to dinner. We would also travel and play basketball all over the Midwest. It was phenomenal.
My Elite Network: Do you still talk to some of your former teammates?
Ed White: I still see several of the NFL guys and I’m good friends with them. It’s always a heartwarming experience to spend time with them.
My Elite Network: Do you have a favorite memory of playing with San Diego?
Ed White: I was very, very blessed, and fortunate. At the Vikings, only one or two players were replaced each year. The team was getting old. Coach believed that keeping the guys that knew how to play and how to win together was how to grow the team. I’m was honored to be part of different teams and San Diego was the perfect place for me. So many wonderful memories and experiences. At San Diego, the line we had was phenomenal…they all should be in the Hall of Fame.
My Elite Network: Is there two or three people that have influenced your journey.
Ed White: My wife of course and my daughter. We lost our daughter in a really freak accident. It was two weeks after graduation and I was coaching for the Aztecs. I had an apartment that I would stay at sometimes when I worked late so I wouldn’t have to drive all the way home every night. Sometimes, my daughter would come down and stay with me. The night before our anniversary, our daughter came to visit with some friends. She slipped and hit her head on a car bumper…she hit her head in the wrong spot and went into a coma. It was horrendous. She was very influential in my life and still is. She gives me great strength. She had a scholarship to go to Cal Poly to play volleyball and basketball…she was a competitor. She was going to study architecture. …just like me. She was just perfect and beautiful. Anyway, we went through that ordeal. But, she’s given me great strength. Of course, my wife has been by my side and sometimes that’s been a rugged journey…especially as a coach. But, I love them both very much. I would also say that coaches throughout my college years influenced my life. I was very lucky playing for coaches like I did.
My Elite Network: What do you believe is your gift area?
Ed White: Well, I think playing dominoes on the computer is something I am really good at (laughs). I believe in God and all the things that he’s done for me… my Christianity is very important. I think there are more channels to peace and love. God and Jesus were about forgiveness. Recently a friend gave me a quote from Martin Luther King. To paraphrase it was: you really haven’t lived your life until you can look beyond your own personal shortcomings and problems and look at what you bring to others. That’s the bottom line.
My Elite Network: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ed White: Hopefully, I’ll be in Mammoth or someplace beautiful…or more beautiful with a smile on my face. That’s what I’m hoping. I don’t think about the other, but, when that happens…I think there’s a place that will be full of kind people to walk with and share happiness.
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