For 14 seasons, guard performed his job with little fanfare. Still, the quarterbacks he protected, the running backs for whom he opened gaping holes knew how much he meant to their success. Just as Randall knows how much O.K. Fulton, his high school athletic director and assistant principal contributed to his success.
is a great fellow who happens to be a great athlete, and a player with the greatest character.
I met Randall when he entered high school as a freshman. I was the assistant principal and the athletic director in the high school in Arizona. I heard about him through a former player of mine who was coaching in the junior high, and he would tell me about this big kid that he had that was going to be great. And lo and behold he was right. Randall is the most physically-gifted athlete that I ever saw at that high school in 50 years. He is brilliant.
He has strength, quickness, speed, desire, and the willingness to work at it very hard.
Our friendship has evolved because I encouraged him to do other things than athletics. I encouraged him really strongly to be sure that he was prepared to do something else if a debilitating injury happened to him. He took that to heart. When he went to Arizona State there was no question he was going to finish and get his degree. Randall was a tight end at Arizona State, and slated for some action. But they had injury after injury, and they needed a guard. So the line coach came and asked him if he would switch. In Randall's typical fashion he said, “sure, I'll do anything to help the team.” And he switched to guard. And he was an All-American his junior and senior years, and first-round draft choice in the NFL.
Randall had an unusual stance that he developed by accident. He had a slight ding on his right leg, and he stretched his left leg out because it was more comfortable that way. But it was highly successful in the game. And his opponent came up to him afterward and said, “What is that stance? You had me fooled, I couldn't do a thing.” Randall said if it will work against him, it will work against a lot of people. And he used it from then on, and highly successfully.
The thing that I admire the most about him is his amazing consistency. He never had an off game. He never took the day off. Randall played in 202 consecutive games. He was selected to 12 Pro Bowls which, for a too-light left guard is absolutely incredible. is the only Arizona athlete and native of Arizona that's ever been selected to the Hall of Fame.
About 20 thousand men have played in the National Football League since its inception, and less than 300 belong to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That's pretty select company. And what an honor it is to be so chosen.
Ladies and gentlemen, to present into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, please welcome O.K. Fulton.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an unprecedented honor to stand before you this evening, and present one of the great athletes in the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2009, . I have known Mr. McDaniel most of his life. I've seen him progress athletically through All-State, All-Pac 10, All America, All-Pro, to be inducted into the NCAA Hall of Fame as well as to be placed on the ring of honor at Viking Stadium.
His athletic accomplishments have been widely recorded and well-chronicled. However, there are some other things that I would like to have you know about Mr. McDaniel. He has always exhibited sterling qualities of character. He is a devoted husband, son, brother, friend and a strong family leader. He has always displayed impeccable integrity. He has a wonderful work ethic that has sustained him through every plateau, and every benchmark of his illustrious career.
He is driven by a decipher to help others, especially young people, as evidenced by his camp McDaniel program for youth, created and operated by he and his wife of 20 years, Marianne. And his secondary profession as a teacher of challenged youngsters in the elementary districts of the greater Minneapolis area.
This said, it gives me the greatest pride -- and pleasure to present to you for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, number 64 of the , the great .
Wow – It’s impossible to imagine a moment like this. It really defies words….and that’s never a good thing when you’re about to give a speech!
You know, as an offensive lineman, I don’t really feel comfortable up here without four other guys lined up next to me. So…if I start to struggle, I’m counting on Zimmerman to drag some linemen up here and bail me out.
I’d like to thank Mr. Fulton for presenting me for Enshrinement today. Outside of my family, he’s the person who made the biggest impact on my life as a young man.
He believed in me before I believed in myself. When most, including me, focused on my athletic ability….he saw more.
He told me to take full advantage of every opportunity sports had to offer….but never let it define me.
Mr. Fulton…Your passion to make a difference in the lives of your students, and your belief in the potential of every young person, is something I try to emulate in my second career as an educator. The encouragement and support you gave me as a young man started me on the path that has led me here today. For that, I am eternally grateful.
In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined standing here today.
To the people of Canton, I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and generosity. To the members of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, thank you for considering me worthy of this honor. To the Hall of Fame Board and Staff, you’re amazing! We appreciate the countless hours you have poured into making this day special for all of us.
To the Hall of Fame Members, it’s an honor and a privilege to join your fraternity. I am truly humbled. To my fellow inductees, it’s been a joy to share this experience with you and your families. I ‘m deeply honored to be “forever linked” to each of you as a member of the Class of 2009.
To me, a moment like this is really an opportunity to celebrate all the people who have made this journey possible.
My family, my friends, my teachers, my teammates, my coaches and my agent, Jack Mills, have all been a crucial part of my success. But for me….it all started at home with my parents – Bob and Lela.
Through their example, I learned the value of hard-work and determination. I learned the importance of character and compassion. I learned the meaning of humility and perseverance. They taught me all that was truly important in life.
I am here today because of the lessons I learned from them. Mom and Dad…..you are my REAL heroes.
My parents build a strong family on a solid foundation of love. To my brother, Kerry, and my sisters, Brenda and Nichel - thank you for keeping me “in line” and always having my back. To my nieces and nephews…and all my other family members…thank you for being an important part of my life. I’m truly blessed to have a loving and supportive family.
The game of football has given me many things. First and foremost, it gave me the opportunity to be the first one in my family to earn a college degree. It taught me about teamwork…. sportsmanship…. discipline….respect….fairness….and competition.
It also gave me the greatest gift of all. It led me to Arizona State University where I met my partner in life and in love….my wife, Marianne.
Marianne – thank you for gracing me with your unconditional love. You have made me a better person. I am so thankful we have travelled this road together. My life would not be complete without you.
With Marianne, came the Mermis family….and that was a good thing! I thank all of you for the love and support you have shown me over the years.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I would have to agree. My village was Avondale, Arizona. I was fortunate to have many people who invested their time and energy in me as a young person. I’m indebted to each of them for caring enough to make a difference in my life.
To all of my Agua Fria coaches, teammates and classmates – I feel lucky to have shared my high school years with you. One of the best parts of the Hall of Fame process has been reconnecting with the friends of my youth. Thanks to all of you here today as well as those watching at home.
In 1983, Coach Darryl Rogers and his staff gave me the opportunity to attend Arizona State University and play for the Sun Devils. For an Arizona kid, there could be nothing better. I arrived at ASU as a 225-pound tight end - but thanks to Coaches Tom Freeman and Jim Colletto - I left as a 262-pound All-American Offensive Guard. To all my ASU coaches, teammates, and offensive lineman – thank you for being an important part of my success.
During my years at Arizona State, I met some wonderful people who have become life-long friends. To my ASU crew – thanks for keeping me grounded and always making me laugh. I treasure the friendship we share.
I was blessed to play 14 years in the NFL. I spend 12 of those years as a Viking, and I will always bleed purple and gold. However, I was fortunate to play my last two seasons in Tampa Bay for Coach Tony Dungy. I would like to thank the entire Bucs organization for letting me come down there and have some fun!
I would also like to thank the people of Minnesota for their kindness and support. You know it must be a special place when you can get a kid who grew up in the desert of Arizona to make his home in the Arctic!
It was an honor to play for the fans of Minnesota and Tampa Bay. I always tried to earn their respect with my play on the field and through my actions off of it.
To the Vikings Ownership and Staff – both past and present – thank you for allowing me to do what I loved and for supporting all of our efforts in the community. To all my Vikings coaches – thank you for helping me to become the best player I could be.
I would especially like to thank Coach Jerry Burns for giving me a chance. I know you weren’t thrilled with taking an undersized offensive lineman with your first round pick in 1988…..but I think it worked out okay! I appreciate the knowledge you brought to the game and the humor you brought to the work place.
I owe much of my success in the NFL to Coach John Michels.
There have always been three people in my life who I never wanted to let down….my parents, Bob and Lela…and my wife, Marianne. When I met Johnny, he became the fourth.
He was relentless in his desire to get the best out of me. He was an extraordinary teacher and would never let me stop learning.
I will always remember being on the practice field with Johnny for the first time. As I headed out to the field, I was nervous. I didn’t know if I should say something to him or shake his hand. I didn’t know if I should call him Coach Michels or Johnny like the other linemen did. So…I was relieved when I saw him approaching. I figured he was coming over to say hello and welcome me. But…much to my surprise…when all “five foot – eight” of him arrived….he looked me straight in the eye and told me ….no rookie would ever play on HIS line….then he trotted off to the huddle. After that, I knew I had MUCH bigger things to worry about!
As a rookie, he chewed me out so many times, I lost track after the first day. But what I quickly learned was he really did love you – he just believed in the “tough love” approach. To this day, when we talk on the phone, he has to yell at me for a couple of seconds before moving on!
In all seriousness, Johnny was like a second father to most of us on the line. He helped me grow as a player and as a person. For that, I will always love him.
To my fellow offensive linemen – the only way I can look at this honor is as one that we have earned as a group. The offensive line is the only place on the football field where it’s impossible to succeed as an individual. In fact, the word individual does not exist in the mind of a successful offensive lineman. That’s was makes this day so difficult for me. I can’t pretend like I got here by myself. While I may be standing up here alone….all of my football accomplishments have been earned in the trenches with my fellow linemen.
So….as I accept this honor, I do so on behalf of all the offensive linemen I played with during my career. It is because of you....I am here today.
I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to pursue two passions in my life. The first was football, and the second is education.
I do find many similarities between playing on the offensive line and working in the classroom. On the line, you have a bunch of regular guys who bring their “lunch pails” to work and do a tough job without much fanfare or glory. They pretty much go unnoticed unless something goes wrong…and yet…if they weren’t there…nothing much else would be possible.
Life as an educator is quite similar. You bring your “lunch pail” to work and do an extremely tough job without much fanfare or glory. And like an offensive lineman, you typically go unnoticed unless something goes wrong…and yet…without teachers…nothing much would be possible.
I think that is why I feel so comfortable in the classroom. I get to work “in the trenches” again with a passionate group of people fighting the good fight and trying to make a difference. I guess I will always be a “lunch pail” kind of guy.
To all the teachers and staff in Robbinsdale – my teaching home for 12 years – and to those in my new teaching home in Westonka….From each of you, I have learned about the dedication, energy, and commitment it takes to be a good teacher. Thanks for sharing your time, your talents and your wisdom with me.
To all of my students…..It’s been a pleasure to be a part of your lives. My hopes for you are that you will open doors of opportunity by making good choices….that you will view your failures as stepping stones to success….and that you will discover your passions and have a chance to pursue them.
We all need someone to believe in us….to guide us….to teach us. We need the special people in our lives that help to shape the person we choose to become.
They’re the ones who take the time to see you - when you feel invisible. They’re the ones who believe in you – before you believe in yourself. They’re the ones who see your hidden potential – and help you to discover it. They’re the ones who dust you off when you fall – and encourage you to give it another try. They are the “difference makers” in your life.
I was extraordinarily blessed to have “difference makers” at every stage of my life. My hope today is that every person listening will choose to become a “difference maker”.
My life….my journey….from Avondale, Arizona to this stage here today….should be proof enough that caring individuals CAN and DO make the difference in one’s life. THANK YOU.
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