Hearne’s Randle elected to NFL Hall of Fame

Undersized and undrafted, defender was never undaunted

John Randle’s 137 sacks is the most by a defensive tackle in NFL history.  Randle went from being a walk-on to a lockdown to join the pro football Hall of Fame. Minnesota Vikings John Randle’s 137 sacks is the most by a defensive tackle in NFL history. Randle went from being a walk-on to a lockdown to join the pro football Hall of Fame. Minnesota Vikings John Randle has literally gone from the outhouse to the penthouse.

Growing up in Mumford, where his family had no indoor plumbing, Randle reached the nadir of professional football Saturday by being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Randle—known as much for his face painting as his unrelenting play—will enter the hall with superstars Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice in his second year of eligibility. The induction ceremony is Aug. 7.

There are now 260 men in the hall.

Randle is the third Hall of Famer from Texas A&I. The others are Gene Upshaw and Darrell Green.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling because of where I came from and what it took to just make it in the NFL,” Randle told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Words can’t describe what it means. I’m in the Hall of Fame!”

“I actually grew up in a nostoplight town called Mumford, population 150,” Randle told the Houston Chronicle. “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.

Randle was a Class 3A secondteam all-state selection his senior year for a 10-2-1 Hearne squad.

Rockdale finished third to the Tigers that season at 8-2 in old District 23-3A.

Hearne blanked Rockdale 21-0 that season.

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 attended Trinity Valley Community College, then 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 alldecade team.

He didn’t miss a game in the 1990s and finished with 1371 /2 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.”

“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.”

This report contains information from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.


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