The Vikings announced Monday that former defensive tackle John Randle will become the 17th member of the Ring of Honor when the Vikings meet the Bears for a nationally televised Sunday night game Nov. 30 at the Metrodome.
Randle played 11 seasons for the Vikings from 1990-2000 after being an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&I University – a school that no longer exists under that name.
"I felt so lost," Randle said of those first days with the Vikings. "I came here with about 40 bucks in my pocket not knowing where I was going, just given the information that I was going to a place called Eden Prairie."
Randle said he met some fans at the time that showed him around and made him feel welcome and supported.
Randle became a part-time starter in 1991, making eight starts at defensive end and leading the team with 9.5 sacks. After finishing second to Chris Doleman (14.5 sacks) with 11.5 sacks in 1992, starting in 1993 he tied or led the Vikings in sacks for eight straight seasons. That included 12.5 sacks in 1993, 13.5 in 1994, 10.5 in 1995, 11.5 in 1996, 15.5 in 1997, 10.5 in 1998, 10 in 1999 and eight in 2000. His eight consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks is second only to Reggie White's nine and one more than Lawrence Taylor and Bruce Smith.
That was an incredible feat for a player who said his confidence level was low when he started with the Vikings.
"It was low when I first got here because I wasn't really sure, coming from a small Division II school to an NFL organization of the Minnesota Vikings' caliber, where I didn't think I was capable of making this team. As I stayed around every week, my confidence started improving and it just showed me that maybe I do have a chance to make it," he said.
"Once training camp was over and the preseason games and I was still on the roster, I knew I had a home and I knew this is where I belonged."
Randle is third on the all-time Vikings sack list with 114, behind only Carl Eller (130 in 209 games from 1964-78) and Jim Marshall (127 in 270 games from 1961-79). Even with those legendary greats, Randle was able to get more sacks per game (170 career games) than any player in franchise history. What makes his feat so astounding is that, starting in 1992, he played six years at defensive tackle – where sacks are much harder to come by than at a pass-rushing DE spot. His eight straight years leading the team in sacks is two more than the next-best total (Jim Marshall, 6 years, 1961-66) and his nine years leading the team in sacks for his career is three more than Marshall, Alan Page and Chris Doleman – who all led the team in sacks six times.
Randle credited Doleman with helping him become the player he was.
"He was really more of a bully my first year," Randle said of Doleman. "He would push me into performing well. By my second or third year, he was tutoring me and showing me things to do on the field and off the field."
After leaving the Vikings following the 2000 season, he spent the final three years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. He finished his career with 556 tackles and 137.5 sacks
Randle was named the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1990s as a defensive tackle, along with Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp and Bryant Young. He was named NFC Player of the Week five times and NFC Player of the Month five times, including once each year from 1996-99. He was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and seven times named to the NFL's All-Pro Team by Associated Press.
Randle is eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year. He was elected into the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Randle will become the 17th member of the Ring of Honor, joining, in order of induction, Fran Tarkenton, Alan Page, Jim Finks, Bud Grant, Paul Krause, Fred Zamberletti, Jim Marshall, Ron Yary, Korey Stringer, Mick Tingelhoff, Carl Eller, Cris Carter, Bill Brown, Jerry Burns, Randall McDaniel and Chuck Foreman.
Randle Joins the Ring of Honor
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