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John Randle took the hard route to the Hall of Fame

In two decades, John Randle went from being not good enough to be drafted to being more than good enough to get into the Hall of Fame.

He wasn’t drafted when the process had only seven rounds.  In 1990, a full twelve rounds of players found teams, and none of them were named John Randle.

But he had what was best described moments ago in NFL Network’s tribute to Randle (which mirrored Kramer’s assessment of Billy Mumphrey):  Unbridled enthusiasm.

Randle became a key part of the Vikings rotation in his rookie year, after defensive tackle Keith Millard tore an ACL.  Randle became a full-time starter when Dennis Green arrived as head coach in 1992, and Randle ended up in the Pro Bowl the next year.

Heartbroken during the failed 1998 NFC title game, Randle was forced to watch long stretches of the overtime loss to the Falcons due to a knee injury.  It’s the closest he ever came to a Super Bowl.

Best known for slathering vast expanses of eye black onto his cheeks, Randle’s more relevant intimidation technique came from research.  He learned personal details about his opponents, and then he barked out player-specific trash talk during a game, often surprising an opponent and, in theory, creating an advantage for Randle.

The guy did his homework on you,” former Chicago Bears guard Tom Thayer recently told Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  “As an offensive lineman, you got used to defensive linemen
talking all the time. But with John, he’d read the press guide and find
some detail about you that he’d use during the game. I always found it
to be pretty funny, but not everybody did.”

Our favorite required little elbow grease on Randle’s part.  It went a little something like this:  “Hey, J.J. Stokes!  J.J. Stokes!  Are you a cousin to J.J. Walker?”

When Randle enters the Hall of Fame on Saturday night with a former teammate to J.J. Stokes (Jerry Rice), our biggest question is whether he’ll show up sporting a face full of eye black.  As a recent series of Vikings lottery ticket commercial demonstrates, Randle can still pull it off.  

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28 Responses to “John Randle took the hard route to the Hall of Fame”
  1. sven_ftw says: Aug 7, 2010 5:27 PM

    John Randle = bad ass.

  2. MrHumble says: Aug 7, 2010 5:31 PM

    A great story and great player. The NFL needs more like him, players who play for the game and not themselves.

  3. detnflfan says: Aug 7, 2010 5:42 PM

    Even though I am a Lions fan, John Randle is one of my favorite players ever. He deserves to go into the HOF. No doubt.

  4. numberfour says: Aug 7, 2010 5:46 PM

    another texas a & i product…
    now it is called texas a&m kingsville

  5. CanadianVikingFan says: Aug 7, 2010 5:49 PM

    This guy is the epitome of an asskicking dlineman.

  6. Love_Boat_Scandal says: Aug 7, 2010 5:51 PM

    J.J. Walker’s cousin! Ha ha! That’s classic. Because, you see, they both went by J.J. What brilliant, brilliant mind could have come up with that? Wow. I can’t stop laughing. I’m actually crying. John Randle is Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, and Pauly Shore rolled into one.

  7. cusoman says: Aug 7, 2010 5:52 PM

    What’s this Packer fans?! An upstanding former Viking who just happens to be entering the HOF? But I thought all Vikings players past an present were smears on the face of society and lackluster role models? Hmm, nah, Randle played for a DIFFERENT team, he must have!

  8. LBPACKFAN says: Aug 7, 2010 6:04 PM

    Congrats John! Well deserved! I hated this guy for many years playing against the Pack, but got respect for him.

  9. Pervy *Harvin says: Aug 7, 2010 6:10 PM

    Randle was a major pain in the ass for the Pukers….really deserves the HOF

  10. FarvesFooPa says: Aug 7, 2010 6:16 PM

    John Randle was a great player! He was fun to watch.

  11. ICEWALKER says: Aug 7, 2010 6:28 PM

    LBPACKFAN says:
    August 7, 2010 6:04 PM
    Congrats John! Well deserved! I hated this guy for many years playing against the Pack, but got respect for him.
    Couldn’t have said it better myself. I wanted to wipe that eye black off him for so many years when I’d watch him against the Packers.
    He just would have turned me into a grease spot himself!
    Good job, Mr. Randle!

  12. onlymyopinionmatters says: Aug 7, 2010 7:01 PM

    John Randle-
    All 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rookies should be forced to watch film of Randle’s entire playing career and how he played the game.
    Undrafted, he played the game with passion, ferocity, yet clean. Didn’t use PED’s , and didn’t need to.
    The perfect example of football player

  13. aj says: Aug 7, 2010 7:12 PM

    Good old Hearne, TX. Stopped to take a leak there a few times.

  14. Shackman v2.0 says: Aug 7, 2010 7:17 PM

    Count me in as another Packer fan who has all the respect in the world for John Randle. He was the type of player that had a non stop motor and constantly needed to be accounted for on every snap. Well deserved honor for a great player.

  15. Allied Biscuit says: Aug 7, 2010 7:42 PM

    glad to see even packer fans paying respect to Big John.

  16. VegasChris says: Aug 7, 2010 7:42 PM

    A class act!
    Way to go, Mr. Randle!
    Remember the Nike ad?

  17. Allied Biscuit says: Aug 7, 2010 7:48 PM

    a guy for 93x radio said he would try to talk to guys in the vikings locker room, and said the players were all pretty quiet. Then one day, in the quiet locker room, John Randle busts open the lockeroom doors, screaming:
    my favorite Viking

  18. Love_Boat_Scandal says: Aug 7, 2010 8:06 PM

    He was a dirty player. No respect for that.

  19. ICEWALKER says: Aug 7, 2010 8:20 PM

    Love_Boat_Scandal says:
    August 7, 2010 8:06 PM
    He was a dirty player. No respect for that.
    You do what the refs let you get away with. He played hard and he figured out what he could get away with.
    Plus he was an animal! Glad he retired! He would NEVER take a play off.

  20. numberfour says: Aug 7, 2010 8:49 PM

    he had a motor.
    that is usually what people say about white guys
    all the talk is intended to knock the other guy off his game. who cares if it makes no sense. besides, he is enjoying himself. not tweeting like an idiot.
    cause while u are thinking “wtf is with him” someone says hut and he is past you.

  21. BigBear123 says: Aug 7, 2010 9:01 PM

    One of the last inductees from abgreat generation. Now we have to deal with daily Haynesworth updates on how lazy he is.

  22. sommerday says: Aug 7, 2010 9:33 PM

    John Randle would also falsely accuse white offensive linemen of using the N-word, just to disrupt them. The white offensive linemen would waste time trying to convince Randle that they did not.
    I will never forget Randle’s behind-the-back hit burying his helmet on poor Charlie Batch as a Detroit Lion QB. I thought Batch was never the same after that hit.

  23. ICEWALKER says: Aug 7, 2010 9:41 PM

    BigBear123 says:
    August 7, 2010 9:01 PM
    One of the last inductees from abgreat generation. Now we have to deal with daily Haynesworth updates on how lazy he is.
    Haynesworth just didn’t want to play in the 3-4. Fine. JUST DON’T TAKE THE BONUS!
    He’s an OK player. put him in the 60s or 70s and see how many times his team mates would get on him for not playing hard.
    Maybe he’s fianlly going to make a change for the better. He’s a good player. Just has to play up to his potential. He knows he can be that sort of player. Now do it. Mr. Haynsworth.

  24. PurpleRaid12 says: Aug 7, 2010 10:11 PM

    He was a dirty player. No respect for that.
    Just because he slept with your mother doesn’t make him a dirty player…

  25. .Vox Veritas. says: Aug 8, 2010 11:34 AM

    “Just because he slept with your mother doesn’t make him a dirty player…”
    Actually… it might!

  26. purpleguy says: Aug 8, 2010 11:47 AM

    Reading above, it’s nice to see there are some cheesers with class. Thx.

  27. vikings=worstfranchiseandfans says: Aug 9, 2010 7:29 AM

    Loud mouth doucher.

  28. Canned Heat says: Aug 10, 2010 3:32 PM

    I play in a golf outing every year with a bunch of former NFLers and they all said Randle was the biggest pain in their asses when they played in the league.
    Whether or not it was true, he apparently never washed his gear so he stunk so bad no one wanted to touch him, he was psycho nuts, and always had a high motor. True or not…still an awesome force. If true, maybe more guys need to go that route.
    Hated his guts when the Pack played him, but man he was a stud at his peak. Good for him.

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