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'A Football Life' Production Shocks John Randle … In a Good Way
December 13, 2017 05:33 AM | Eric Smith


Growing up in small-town Texas, John Randle had visions of one day being a garbage man.

The former Vikings defensive tackle instead ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Randle's incredible journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the greatest defensive players of his era will be chronicled later this week on NFL Network, as John Randle: A Football Life premieres Friday at 8 p.m. (CT).

In the piece, Randle describes his childhood aspirations. He expanded on those thoughts in an interview with Vikings.com earlier this week.

"You want to emulate the things you see in your neighborhood," Randle said. "For me, a job that had stability was a garbage man because rain, sleet or snow, it was there.

"I saw these guys every day, and at about noon or 1 p.m., they were done," Randle added. "I used to talk to them ... to me, it was pretty cool that they had so many city benefits. They just seemed to be pretty happy."

Instead of collecting trash on a daily basis, Randle eventually focused on bringing down quarterbacks.

NFL Films highlighted his well-known path from being an undrafted player to landing with the Vikings in 1990.

Although the Vikings Ring of Honor member would rack up 137.5 career sacks, Randle said he always used the fact that nobody initially wanted him as motivation.



"That was important in how I approached the game, being free agent. You never become comfortable as a free agent," Randle said. "It's almost like when you're a draft pick, you were hand-picked because this is what they want. A free agent is like a temporary guy, a guy were going to put in there until we get something else better.

"It's almost like you were a rental car," Randle quipped. "When you rent a car, you have it for a few days. It's not something you buy or want, it's what they give you. That's how I felt about myself. I wanted to make the most of it."

Besides Randle's production on the field, the hour-long piece also focuses on his intensity on the fiel

Randle's trademark eye black is emphasized, as is his ability to rile up opponents. Former Tampa Bay quarterback Trent Dilfer was infamously ejected in a 1995 game for throwing a punch at Randle.

A frustrated Dilfer was sacked six times by the Vikings that day, including once by Randle, whose chatty nature was known to get in his opponents' heads.

"When you're playing the game, you're into the game," Randle said. "It was just me playing the game. I had to be an intense player."



The piece begins by highlighting Randle's childhood home in Mumford, Texas. Although the property is no longer there, NFL Films essentially rebuilt the home and conducted Randle's interview inside it.

It was the beginning of quite an amazing football life for Randle.

"Growing up where I grew up at, as a kid I thought I had everything in the world and that it was just a normal life," Randle said. "NFL Films did an exceptional job of rebuilding my childhood home because it doesn't exist anymore. It looked almost identical to what I grew up in. Man, to see it in the modern day, I was shocked because back then it seemed like it was so big. To see it now, it was really small.

"Going back to my hometown, we were walking on the street where I grew up, I used to think it was almost a football field long to run down that street," Randle added. "We got out there, and it was 30 yards at the most. It was just pretty cool to see a lot of that and a lot of people I had grown up with. It was really something special."

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