My career has afforded me many amazing opportunities, and I’m often asked who are some of the best players I’ve covered.
I’ve certainly covered more notorious and famous athletes than Randall McDaniel, but I’ve never covered one more noble and memorable.
McDaniel was a 12-time Pro Bowl and nine-time All-Pro guard, mostly for the Minnesota Vikings. He was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
He’s one of the greatest players ever because of what he’s done on the field.
But he’s also one of the greatest men ever because of what he’s done off the field.
Since retiring, Randall has worked as a basic skills instructor.
Not a volunteer, not a substitute. A FULL-TIME POSITION.
But before we go there, let me start here: When I started on the Vikings beat, other reporters gave me the scoop on the locker room.
The good interviews, the bad interviews. The good guys, the bad guys.
Randall McDaniel, the team’s perennial All-Pro guard, was a “bad guy.” Multiple reporters told me this because McDaniel didn’t do interviews. Of course, I found this out for myself, approaching him several times for different stories. In each instance, he was polite, and he was even willing to have a conversation, though nothing related to the team or football.
I found him fascinating.
In the years since, I’ve seen him at different events, mostly on golf courses. Each interaction was enjoyable.
Now, many years later, I call him and his wife Marianne friends.
This is Randall McDaniel: Though he loves golf and could play in an endless number of events because of his Hall of Fame status, he chooses to teach public elementary school students.
This is Randall McDaniel: When he learned that a lifelong Vikings fan was dying, he and Marianne arranged to give that fan and his family a day they’d never forget and contacted me to share their remarkable story.
So naturally, I wanted Randall and Marianne to be among the first to see The Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher.
Here are Randall’s insights:
“After spending 14 years in the trenches as an offensive lineman, I’ve worked for the past 13 years on the front lines of learning in the elementary school classroom. As an educator, I know first-hand the importance of reading as a springboard to student success.
Sean Jensen’s book is a welcome addition to our reading arsenal. He has expertly woven important life lessons into the real-life story of Brian Urlacher’s journey from humble beginnings to NFL stardom.
The Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher teaches us that while dreams are fueled by the support of family and friends – they are achieved by working hard and never giving up!
I highly recommend this book to all young readers and to every adult wanting to share a fun reading experience with a child they love!”
I’m flattered, of course, but I’m also honored because Randall recognizes some of the keys to why I developed this idea.
Photo Credit: Lake Minnetonka Magazine, ASU News, NFL.com