The 300: #16 John Randle

The final edition of The 300 for this week brings us another player from the modern era, who straddled the turn of the century with distinction for two teams.

NFL CAREER

Minnesota Vikings (1990-2000)

Seattle Seahawks (2001-2003)

 

POSITION

Defensive Tackle

 

WHY IS HE IMPORTANT

Some – but very few – of The 300 are players who, inexplicably, went undrafted out of college. John Randle is one such player. Quite what a mistake this was rapidly became clear. Picked up by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, he easily made their squad and then gained a starting berth. Where many scouts had thought him to be too small to play defensive tackle, Randle turned his lack of size to his advantage, training ferociously and using his speed and low centre of gravity to simply dart past larger offensive linemen.

All of this was helped by Randle’s own, slightly eccentric, personality. His habit of heckling players across the line of scrimmage became legendary, as did his penchant for facepaint. These things would not have been important, though, if he had not been able to back them up with his play. Over his time in the NFL he recorded an astonishing 137.5 sacks, or roughly two every three games. Only one defensive lineman – fellow Viking Alan Page – has more. He made seven Pro Bowls, led the NFL in sacks in 1997 and was voted to the NFL’s 1990s Team of the Decade.

In all, Randle was one of the most feared defensive linemen of his day, and his dedication to training meant that he never missed a game in ten years with the Vikings, and only five in his subsequent time in Seattle. In this respect he truly was the forerunner of the modern defensive tackles that we have come to appreciate so much.

Richard O’Hagan

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Richard O'Hagan
Writer on such diverse topics as sport, music, theatre, law and politics. Author of 'Eddie the Sheep'. Supporter of underachieving teams, including the Chicago Bears from before that brief, heady, period in the mid-1980s when they were actually any good. All I want for Christmas is a Jim McMahon away shirt.
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