John Randle spent most of his 14-year National Football League career talking to opposing players. It was as much his trademark as the eye black that ran down his face during games. But his acceptance speech as an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2010 was ironically a mere six minutes.
Nevertheless, it spoke volumes as to just how much Randle appreciated those who helped him achieve an honor he never thought possible.
Randle thanked everyone from his hometown of Mumford, TX (population 150) and Herron, TX (where he went to high school) to the Minnesota Vikings, a team that believed in him and gave him a chance when most teams thought he was too small to play in the National Football League. The rest of the best went something like:
- John Teerlinck, Randle's presenter, for "motivating me, focusing me on the game I love ... showing me what sometimes I didn't see in myself."
- Keith Waters, coach at Trinity Valley Community College, who convinced Randle to "continue with my dream of playing football when I was uncertain about college and my future."
- College teammates at Texas A&I
- Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks teammates (especially Henry Thomas, Chris Doleman and Randall McDaniel)
- Vikings head coaches Jerry Burns and Dennis Green
- Vikings equipment manager Dennis Ryan, who found shoulder blades small enough to fit him
- The fans for "those days when I thought I had given my all and had nothing left to give."
- Big brothers Dennis and Ervin Randle
- His late mother, who raised three boys alone with very little money
- His family, wife Candace and children
- The Pro Football Hall of Fame and "everyone who played a part in electing me, for making this small-town kid's dream come true."
John Randle may have been a man of few words tonight, but in watching his highlight reel and remembering the type of player he was on an evening that celebrated his many achievements, it brought back fond memories Vikings fans will never forget.