The Hall of Fame Series: Randall McDaniel

Minnesota 1988-99
Tampa Bay 2000-01
Class of 2009

So far in the Hall of Fame series, we’ve come across the careers of many talented individuals, all among the best at their respective positions over their playing days. This changes a bit today as we look at Hall of Fame guard Randall McDaniel, the eighth edition of our series. McDaniel is the first player we’ll cover who is universally regarded as one of the five best players ever at their respective position.

From a young age, McDaniel was a physical freak. At eight years old, he was too big to play Pop Warner football. He wouldn’t play the sport until high school, where he played tight end at 220 pounds. But it was what he did on the track that set him apart. He set the school record at Agua Fria in Arizona by running the 100-meter dash in 10.64 seconds. Despite being much larger than the rest of his competition, McDaniel would go on and compete in the state track meets.

Staying in-state to play for the Arizona Sun Devils, McDaniel made a position change in his freshman season. He switched to guard, and it culminated with Arizona State finishing No. 4 in the country following a Rose Bowl victory in 1987.

After one more season in Tempe, McDaniel entered the NFL draft. At the combine, even at 287 pounds, McDaniel still ran a 4.6-forty yard dash (faster than Laquon Treadwell). He then went out and posted a 35-inch vertical jump, showing how well-rounded his insane athleticism was. The Vikings would select McDaniel 19th overall in the 1988 draft, pairing him alongside Gary Zimmerman, who we previously covered in this series.

Randall McDaniel made up for his small stature with elite athleticism in the combine.

McDaniel played in every game of his rookie season, starting 15. He was recognized on the All-Rookie team. Following that was the most consistent, dominant stretch of offensive line play in NFL history. He was selected to the Pro Bowl each of the next 12 seasons. From 1990 through 1998, McDaniel was named to All-Pro each season. Seven of those seasons he was first-team. And unsurprisingly, he was selected to the 1990s All-Decade Team.

With all of his athleticism, the Vikings didn’t use McDaniel as a conventional guard all the time. He occasionally lined up at fullback in short-yardage situations as a lead blocker.

But it was his stance that was the most unconventional part of his game. Following an injury where Vikings teammate Todd Kalis hit his knee, McDaniel missed two games in 1990. When he returned to play, his knee brace was stiff, and he could only get into his stance by turning his right leg out. By doing this, an opposing defensive lineman said he couldn’t find any tells in McDaniel’s game. When McDaniel learned this, he lined up in the bizarre stance for the rest of his career, using it to his advantage.

After being released from the Vikings following the 1999 season, McDaniel joined then-rival Tampa Bay. In 2000, McDaniel was voted to his final Pro Bowl, even catching his first career touchdown pass along the way. He became the oldest player to ever record his first career touchdown reception at 36 years, 282 days.

McDaniel retired following the 2001 season, signing a one-day contract with the Vikings in February 2002. In 2006, he was inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. And in his third year of eligibility, Randall McDaniel was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When the NFL released its 100th Anniversary Team, he was one of seven guards selected. Hopefully the Vikings can offer something reminiscint of McDaniel in 2021.