Former Viking Randle makes Hall of Fame

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- One of the greatest rags-to-riches stories in NFL history began in little Mumford, Texas, traveled through Minnesota and will now live forever in Canton, Ohio.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- One of the greatest rags-to-riches stories in NFL history began in little Mumford, Texas, traveled through Minnesota and will now live forever in Canton, Ohio.

Welcome to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, John Randle.

They said you were too small to play Division I football. They said you weren't worth drafting in 1990.

Boy, were they wrong.

Saturday, a selection committee of 44 media members named the former Vikings defensive tackle as one of the 260 greatest men to be a part of the NFL's 90-year history. Joining Randle in the Class of 2010 are 49ers receiver Jerry Rice, Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, Saints linebacker Rickey Jackson, Redskins guard Russ Grimm, Lions cornerback and longtime NFL coach Dick LeBeau and Broncos running back Floyd Little.


"It's an unbelievable feeling because of where I came from and what it took to just make it in the NFL," Randle said by phone from his home in Medina, Minn. "Words can't describe what it means. I'm in the Hall of Fame!"

Meanwhile, ex-Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, who retired with 1,101 catches, 13,899 yards and 130 touchdowns, was denied access for a third consecutive year. After a lengthy debate, selectors set Carter and fellow receivers Tim Brown and Andre Reed aside to focus on other positions in one of the strongest fields in years. Carter, who was eliminated in the first cut, was disappointed but said he's keeping his spirits up.

"I don't have any other choice," Carter said.

Randle enters the Hall in his second year of eligibility. And where he came from to get there is, well, basically nowhere.

"I grew up in a no-stoplight town called Mumford, Texas, population 150," Randle said. "It still doesn't have a stoplight. I went to school in Hearne, but that's the big city to us. About 5,000 people, and it's 12 miles away. I used to hitchhike home from practice every day."

The youngest of three boys raised by a single mother named Martha, Randle grew up with no cable television and no air conditioning in the heart of Texas. "And no indoor plumbing, either," Randle said.

When it came time for college, Randle's options were limited. "I wasn't very tall, and I was 227 pounds," he said. "The big schools weren't looking for 227-pound defensive linemen."

He went to Texas A&I, a Division II school, where he had a good college career. The NFL wasn't impressed on draft day.


The Vikings were lucky to have a scout named Don Deisch. He was at Portland State when he saw Randle playing the only way Randle knew how to play: loudly and full steam ahead.

The Vikings signed Randle as an undrafted free agent, and he played 11 seasons for the Vikings and three more in Seattle. An unusually skilled pass rusher for a defensive tackle, he was first-team All-Pro six times, a seven-time Pro Bowl pick and a member of the NFL's 1990s all-decade team. He didn't miss a game in the 1990s and finished with 137½ career sacks, a record for a defensive tackle.

"He was nearly unblockable," said Vikings quarterback and former Packer Brett Favre, who faced Randle several times.

Randle's famous "motor" never stopped. Neither did that even more famous motor mouth. "He might be one of those ADHD kids," said Smith, referring to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Said Rice: "I was terrified of him. Looking across the line and him making faces all the time, and all that makeup on."

Randle said he never once took a play off. "Not even in practice," he said. "Going to a small school, not getting drafted, that's all stuff I used throughout my career to get better. It's not how big you are that matters. It's the size of your heart that makes you great."

Randall McDaniel, the former Vikings guard selected to the Hall of Fame last year, said he can attest to Randle's motor never stopping.

"Johnny made me a Hall of Famer because if I ever took a play off in practice, he would have embarrassed me," McDaniel said. "Johnny's motor never stopped. Ever."


And now it's heading for Canton, to be enshrined on Aug. 7.

What To Read Next
Get Local