Blogs / Features
Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian email@example.com
No. 3 in 100: McDaniel looked out for teammates, communityAug 30, 2012
Taking care of others suits Randall McDaniel perfectly.
As one of the more dominant left guards, McDaniel protected his Minnesota and Tampa Bay teammates with great success during his 14-year Hall of Fame football career. As a special education basic skills instructor in Minnesota, McDaniel tries to improve the lives of young children.
Looking after others stems from the sports and life lessons McDaniel soaked up while growing up in Avondale. Those lessons served McDaniel well during a career that culminated with his 2009 induction into the Hall of Fame, the first and only Arizona high school football alum to accomplish the feat so far.
“Randall’s athletic accomplishments were widely publicized, but he is a man of great character,” said one of McDaniel’s Avondale mentors, O.K. Fulton, a revered administrator during his long career at Avondale Agua Fria High.
Fulton and McDaniel’s parents, Lela and Robert, played big roles in helping mold McDaniel into the educator and humble person he is today.
Besides blossoming into a gifted athlete at Agua Fria, McDaniel also completed his high school career (1979-83) without missing a day of class. Unbelievably, the very first time McDaniel played on an offensive line was when he was a sophomore at Arizona State.
At Agua Fria, he was faster than his offensive line teammates, so the football coaches placed the speedy and athletic McDaniel at tight end, fullback and other positions. But McDaniel grew up believing his future was in baseball.
He attempted to play Pop Warner football once but was told he needed to lose 20 pounds before McDaniel was allowed to play alongside the much shorter kids.
“I loved to eat,” McDaniel said. “So I told them I wasn’t going to lose the weight.”
When he arrived at Agua Fria is when McDaniel finally suited up for football.
But he also played and excelled in others sports, including handball.
“What I loved about high school is that you got to play every sport,” McDaniel said.
He used his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame to do some extraordinary things in high school, including earning All-State honors in football and basketball and setting a school record in the 100-meter dash.
What the 47 year old is doing now also is extraordinary. Besides teaching, McDaniel and his wife, Marianne, also operate an after school program, “Team McDaniel,” for middle school students in Minnesota.
McDaniel also takes time to fly back to the Valley to participate in charity events, proving that he is as good a person as he was an athlete.
(Full disclosure: I interviewed McDaniel twice, including this year, during my 12-year tenure with The Arizona Republic.)
Throughout the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years aia365.com will celebrate the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s 100th anniversary by unveiling 100 of the top moments and people who helped shape the landscape of high school sports in Arizona. If you would like to recommend a story idea for this project, you can e-mail it to me or post it on our Facebook page.