Randall McDaniel's Hall of Fame speech

The transcript of Randall McDaniel's speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

RANDALL McDANIEL: Wow, it's impossible to imagine a moment like this. It really denies words -- defies words. And that's never a good thing when you're about to give a speech:

You know, as an offensive linemen, I don't really feel comfortable up here without the other four guys lined up next to me. So if I start to struggle, I'm counting on Gary Zimmerman to come up with some more linemen and bail me out.

I would like to thank Mr. O.K. Fulton for presenting me today he made a big difference in my life as a young man. He believed in me before I believed in myself. The most he focused on -- when most 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 life of your students and your belief in the potential of every young person is something I tried to emulate in my second career as an educator. Through your courage and support you gave me as a young man started me on the path that has led me here today. For that, I'm eternally grateful.

In my wildest dreams I could have never imagined standing here today. To the people of Canton, I would like to thank you for the warm welcome and your 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 your countless hours you have for making this day special for all of us.

To the Hall of Fame members, it is an honor and a privilege to join the fraternity, I am truly grateful.

To my fellow inductees, it's been a joy to share the experience of joy with your family. I'm deeply honored and forever linked to each of you as a member of the class of 2009.

To me, this moment, moments like this that I really have an opportunity to celebrate all the people who helped me make this journey. To my family, my friends, my teachers, my teammates, my coaches and my agent, Jack Mills, you all have 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'm here today because of the lessons I've learned from them. Mom and dad, you're my real heroes.

My parents built a strong family on on a solid foundation of love. To my brothers Gary and my sisters Brenda and Michele, thank you for keeping me in line and always having my back.

To my nieces and nephews and all my other family members, thanks for being an important part of my life. I'm truly blessed to have such a loving and supportive family.

To the game of football, it has given me many things. First and foremost, it gave me the opportunity to be the first person 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, that led me to Arizona State where I met my partner in life and love, my wife, Marianne.

Marianne, thank you for gracing me with your unconditional love. You made me a better person, and I'm so thankful that we've traveled this road together. My life wouldn't be complete without you.

With Marianne came the family. And that's a good thing. I thank all of you for the love and support you have shown me over the years. They said it takes a village to raise a child, and I would agree. My village was Avondale, Arizona. I was fortunate to have many people who invested the time and energy in a young person. I am indebted to each of them for caring enough to make a difference in my life. To all of the coaches, teammates, classmates, I feel lucky to have shared my high school years with you. One of the best parts about this Hall of Fame process, based on all of you here today, and those watching at home, in 1983. For an Arizona kid, there could be nothing better. I arrived at ASU a 225-pound tight end. But thanks to coach Don Friedman and Jim Colletto, I left a 262-pound guard.

To all my ASU coaches and teammates, offensive linemen, thanks for being there, and being such an important part of my success.

During my years at Arizona State, I met some wonderful people. People who have become my life-long friends. To my ASU crew, thank you for keeping me grounded and always making me laugh. I treasure and appreciate you.

I was blessed to play 14 years in the NFL. I spent 12 seasons with the Vikings, and I'll always bleed purple and gold. However, I was fortunate to play my last two seasons at Tampa Bay for coach Tony Dungy. I would like to thank the entire organization for letting me come down there and have some fun. I'd also like to thank the people in Minnesota for their kindness and support.

You know, it must be a special place when you get a kid who grew up in the deserts 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 Viking ownership and staff both past and present, thank you for allowing me to do what I loved, and supporting all my efforts out in the community. To all my Vikings coaches, thank you for helping me become the player -- the best player-- that I could be.

I'd like to thank coach Jerry Burns for giving me a chance. I know you weren't thrilled with taking an undersized offensive linemen with the 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 workplace.

I owe much of my success in the NFL to coach John Michaels. There have always been three people in my life who I never want to let down. My parents Bob and Lela, my wife Marianne, and 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. He never stopped learning. being on the practice field with Johnny for the first time, when 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 was worried about whether I should call him Coach Michaels or Johnny like the rest of the linemen did. So I was relieved when I saw him approaching. I figured he was coming over to say hello or welcome me. But much to my surprise, when all 8 of us were right in front of me he looked me straight in the eyes and told me, no rookie would ever play on his line, and 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 stopped counting after the first practice. But what I quickly learned is he really did love you. He just believed in that tough love approach. To this day when I talk to him on the phone, he has to yell at me for a couple of seconds before moving on. And in all seriousness, Johnny was like a second father to most of the linemen. He helped me grow as a player and as a person, and for that, I'll always love him.

To the defensive linemen, the only way I can look at this honor is it's one that we have earned as a group. The offensive line is the only place on the football field where it is impossible to be an individual. The word individual doesn't exist in the mind of a successful offensive lineman. That's what makes it so difficult for me. I can't pretend I got here by myself. While I may be stand
ing up here alone, all my football accomplishments have been earned in the trenches with my fellow linemen.

So I accept this honor, and I do so on behalf of all the offensive linemen that I played with during my career. It's because of you that I am here today.

I've been extremely fortunate to have two passions in my life. The first was football, the second was 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 else would be possible.

Life as an educator is quite similar. You bring your lunch pail to work. You do an extremely tough job without much fan fare 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's 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 that's why I'll always be a lunch pail kind of guy. To all the teachers and staff, my teaching home for 12 years and those in my new teaching home in weston can a, teaching about education, energy, commitment it takes to be a good teacher, thanks for sharing your time and your talent, and your wisdom with me.

To all my students, it's been a pleasure to be 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 a stepping stone to success. And that you will discover your passion 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 who help save 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 and teach you to believe in yourself. They're the ones who see the hidden potential and help you discover it. They're the ones who dust you off when you fall and encourage you to give it another try. They're the difference makers in our lives.

I was extraordinarily blessed to have difference makers at every stage of my life. My hopes today is that every person listening would 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 a difference in someone's life. Thank you.