In conjunction with the Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan's Choice campaign, which is the only opportunity fans have to make their voice heard for the NFL Hall of Fame, The Daily Norseman was honored to sit and talk with NFL Hall of Famer and Viking Ring of Honor inductee Randall McDaniel.
McDaniel is one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, and is considered by many to be the greatest offensive guard ever. He was the Vikings first round draft pick in 1988, made the all-rookie team, was named an NFL All-Pro from 1990-1998, was a 12 time Pro Bowler, and was a stalwart on the legendary 1998 team. It was a pleasure to speak with Mr. McDaniel, who spoke about the Hall of Fame, his playing days, and his post-football life.
The McDaniel interview and more information about fanschoice.com, after the jump.
Daily Norseman: During your playing days you were a private guy that went out of the way to avoid the spotlight. What made you get involved with the Van Heusen Hall of Fame promotion?
Randall McDaniel: Because it’s a great cause. Back in the day I avoided the spotlight because I just wanted to do my job, and there were things going on with the team at that time that kept me from talking. They wanted to talk about all the bad things that were happening (off the field) instead of what was happening on the field.
But for Van Heusen coming on board with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s a great thing to get the message out there to get the fans involved about voting for who they think should be in the Hall of Fame. What a great day, because the fans can go out to fanschoice.com and vote on who they think are the true Hall of Famers, and see how close they are to how the actual committee votes. And it might let the committee know that maybe they are overlooking a player (that they shouldn’t).
DN: You were on the same team with future Hall of Fame linemen Gary Zimmerman and John Randle. Did you realize at the time when you were practicing with these guys that they were future Hall of Famers, and did you see yourself as one?
RM: I didn’t even think about it. When I played with those guys then, you just went out and did your job and you played, and didn’t worry about other things that were down the road. I thought Gary would be. He was offensive lineman of the year my rookie year and I learned from him. I stole some of his blocking techniques, because I liked how they worked and what they did for me during the game. Johnny, I thought was going to be a great one. I never thought Hall of Fame when you were playing against him, but he made the games easier for me, because I went up against him every day in practice. It was like playing the game in slow motion after having to deal with John Randle in practice, and when he figured it out, there was no stopping him. For myself, I never thought about it. I just thought that I enjoyed what I was doing, I was fortunate to have the 14 years, so whatever happens after that is gravy on top of the potatoes.
DN: Speaking of your playing days--your stance, we gotta talk about it. You had arguably the most unorthodox stance for a lineman in NFL history, but it worked out well for you. How did that stance come to be, and how many times did coaches try to get you to change it to the "more traditional" stance for a lineman?
RM: (Laughs). Here’s the thing. It was a traditional stance when I started. My first year in the league it was normal, and my second year it started out normal. I got rolled on to about three weeks into the season against Pittsburgh. I had to come out of the game, and I wasn’t supposed to play for four weeks. They fitted me with an old Don Joy brace that someone else had used, because I was a young guy and we don’t get the new stuff.
So the second week of me being out, they dressed me out because I was running around a lot better in practice. I got tossed back into the game, because the guy that replaced me wasn’t doing very well, and the coach figured I should get in there. It was a passing situation, I needed to get lower in my stance, and that brace stopped me from getting down to where I needed to be. So I turned my foot out so I could get into that stance, and at the end of the game the d(efensive) lineman told me he had no clue what I was doing from that stance. And I thought if he doesn’t know what I’m doing, I’m going to stick with it.
My line coach told me if I couldn’t get out of it he was going to make me change back, so I worked to make sure I could always get out of it, and to this day if I have to get into a stance, that stance comes up. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, and I tell them not to do it, but it worked for me. I tell kids that’s my stance, no one else can do it, and if you want to use that stance you have to do everything I did with that stance. If you can’t, don’t get in it.
DN: What are some characteristics that Hall of Fame guys have in common, and of the eligible list for 2011 who would you vote for if you had a say?
RM: It’s got to be that consistency, that hard work and determination that all the guys have. But you really have to be consistent, and do it day in and day out. I know a lot of guys look at getting into the Hall (of Fame) by the Pro Bowls, but I always say that guy has to be there more than once; you have to do it more than five times. And this is how I love where the fan voting can help out, because I think they can bring awareness to these guys. My vote right now--well everybody knows Cris Carter and Chris Doleman, who I played with, they’re going to get in. If I had a vote right now, I would either give it to (Jim) Marshall or (Mick) Tingelhoff, former greats for the Vikings. Everybody assumes Marshall’s in, but he’s not, and Tingelhoff, for what he did during the Purple People Eater Days. Those guys should be in, and they’re not. But the fans can go out to fanschoice.com and help bring that awareness to those guys that came before us.
Ed. note: Here’s Tingelhoff’s resume from SI.com writer Peter King in a Training camp article about the Vikings from August 5, 2005:
"He started the first preseason game, the first regular-season game, and then every single pre-, regular- and post-season game in Vikings history for the next 17 years. He made more all-pro teams than any center of all time, including the two centers from his era, Jim Langer and Jim Otto, who are in the Hall.
I am befuddled. He snapped for punts and kicks for 17 years. He played through six finger dislocations, a fully torn calf muscle, a separated shoulder --and, remarkably, no broken leg or arm bones and no torn knee ligaments. That he knows of, anyway. There were FULL SEASONS when he did not miss a single play. the Vikings went to four Super Bowls with him anchoring the offensive line."
Here is a
Here is alink to Jim Marshall's bio and stats, and sample letters to write to get him (and Tingelhoff) elected, thanks to the Southern California Vikings Club. It's a travesty that Mick Tingelhoff and Jim Marshall aren't in the Hall of Fame. Go to fanschoice.com and vote for Tingelhoff and Marshall early and often, or Randall McDaniel will come to your house and pancake block you until you do.*
*Okay, he probably won't, but do it anyway.
DN: What surprised you the most when you retired about not being in the NFL anymore, and how tough an adjustment was it going from famous athlete to not being in the spotlight?
RM: When I retired, the thing I missed the most was the camaraderie I had with the guys in the locker room. Coming in in the morning, and knowing those guys would all be there, you can sit and talk about who did what, how things are going, watching the other guys families grow, that’s the part I miss. Other than that, I was ready to walk away. I work in the schools now, I was doing that when I was playing football during the off days and the off-season, and it was an easy transition. The day I retired, I was already at the school, and I did my retirement there. So I never had a problem with the transition.
DN: From what I’ve read, it sounds like you’re really enjoying your second career as a teacher.
RM: Oh, I love what I’m doing now. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of great teachers who’ve let me sit in their classrooms and be a distraction for a little while, so I can learn from them. I always said you’ve got to find something you love besides the sport that you’re playing. When you retire from football, you’re still young and you’ve got (to have) that second career, so you’ve got to have something you want to do. I was fortunate enough to do two things that I love the most. I got to play football, and now I get to work with kids, and how can I not like that? When you’re working with kids, and they get it and the light bulb goes off, what better feeling is there than that?
DN: I have to ask—how many parents have asked you for an autograph during parent-teacher conferences?
(Laughs). The kids are good about telling the parents they can’t get an autograph. I tell kids at the beginning of the year I will sign stuff for family and friends at Christmas to give out as a gift, but not for yourself, and at the end of the year I will sign for all of you. So each year for the schools that I’ve been at, I’ve only had to sign stuff for the new kids coming into the school. But every now and then I get a parent that comes in with some stuff that they’ll want me to sign, and I tell them they’ll have to wait until the end of the year, because if I do it for them I’ll have to do it for everybody.
DN: Do you still follow the Vikings, and what do you think of your former arch enemy now playing for the Vikings, and how do you think your ex-teammate John Randle, who made so many great commercials with the Favre jersey on the chicken and all that, how do you think he feels about it?
RM: When they call his name out you still picture him in the green (of the Packers), but he’s a Viking now, and he’ll finish his career here with the Vikings, so it’s kind of fun to watch. But I’ll talk to Johnny, and we’ll hear touchdown pass by Favre and think somebody should’ve gotten to him before he got that off. But then we think oh, he’s on our team now, so we can’t do that. It is a little different because for all those years he was on the other team. But I can’t say anything bad about Favre, because he threw me my first touchdown pass in the Pro Bowl one year (Ed. note--it was after the 1996 season in the Pro Bowl, and he was the first guard to accomplish the feat). And he’s made those young players on the team better. I mean, who wants to let down Brett Favre? I know they’re struggling right now but they’ve got a good nucleus. If they can get it together, they’ll be great.
Wow, what a treat that was for me, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you to both Randall McDaniel and Van Heusen for this opportunity.
The Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan’s Choice campaign is educating and empowering fans like never before with the most in-depth coverage on the 130+ candidates, aggregated Hall of Fame news from across the country, robust discussion boards incentivized voting and opinions and insights from Hall of Famers. Head over to fanschoice.com and check out some of these cool features:
FAN PAYOFF: One lucky fan will earn the opportunity to announce the Fan’s Choice Class of 2011 alongside Steve Young in Dallas.
SMACK TALK: For those fans who want to voice their opinions beyond the traditional message board, they can "Phone It In." Users call a toll free number and their audio message will be posted to the website.
FAN’S CHOICE BLOG: Videos, events, photos and blog entries penned weekly by Hall of Famers.
VOTE: Users can vote as often as they want – the more you vote, the more you win. Users earn points for voting and getting their friends to vote.
PRIZES: Points earn you prizes – from signed helmets to discounts to entries into the sweepstakes.
Sweepstakes prizes include a chance to play at the Legends Golf Invitational at Pebble Beach or attend the 2011 Hall of Fame Induction weekend celebration.
Although the fan vote does not count toward the official selection, this is the place for fans to be heard and join the debate.