Undated photo of Wilford "Whizzer" White, an Arizona State University football player. Courtesy ASU

Submitted Photo

In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.

Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.

Wilford "Whizzer" White and Danny White


After setting seven passing records at ASU, becoming an All-American and going on to a 15-year professional football career, Mesa native Danny White was named Arizona's athlete of the century in 1999.

He had a problem with that.

"I'm not even No. 1 in my family," he told the Arizona Republic, which gave him the honor.

That's because his father, Wilford "Whizzer" White was twice the state's high school player of the year at Mesa High School and also went on to be an All-American at ASU before injuries cut short his NFL career after three seasons.

Although both Whites left a clear mark on the state's football fields - Whizzer played for Mesa High and Danny for Westwood before they played at ASU - there was a difference between them. Whizzer was a speedy, crafty running back and Danny was a cerebral quarterback who also punted for the Dallas Cowboys before taking over for Roger Staubach in 1980.

"The only way that we were probably alike is our competitiveness," Whizzer White said. "I don't think he could run the ball as well, but I couldn't throw the ball and direct a team as well as he could."

Whizzer said his son also excelled in all sports, including baseball, while Whizzer focused on track and field outside football season. The two would discuss strategy together, so it wasn't a surprise that Danny later coached the Arizona Rattlers and Utah Blaze of the Arena League.

Whizzer played three seasons in the NFL but suffered a knee injury as a rookie and was relegated to being a role player instead of a full-time running back. So he took over his father's Mesa Merchant Police security firm and still runs it today.

Danny White now does speaking engagements and color commentary on nationally syndicated radio broadcasts of Cowboys games, but his father says his football mind could be put to use on the field again.

"It's really bewildering to a lot of people why ASU won't hire him," Whizzer said.

Current age

Whizzer, 82; Danny, 59.

By the numbers


Career all-purpose yards recorded by Whizzer White at ASU from 1947-50, still the school record.

Bruce Pascoe