Rare Brand Of Cowboy

July 24, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

Dallas -- Randy White walks into his house around 6 in the morning dressed in a sleeveless flannel shirt, jeans and boots. He has a shotgun in one hand, a rifle under the other arm.

Dirt is splattered on his face; anger is in his eyes.

Randy White lost this game, at least for a day.

"Darn coyotes," said White, spitting a wad of tobacco. "They've killed 12 goats between my farm and my neighbors. I'm going to get them. They don't know who they're messing with."

"He'll kill them, for sure," said Charlie Waters, the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator and White's former teammate. "He has always been a farm boy, but one with great determination and a real nasty streak. Poor coyotes."

Randy White, 41, is down on the farm again.

He owns a 20-acre ranch in nearby Prosper, Texas. On most mornings, White is either fishing, milking cows, practicing martial arts in a field or training guard dogs.

He looks fit, even though he swears he is three-quarters of an inch shorter and 10 pounds lighter than his playing shape of 6 feet 4, 270 pounds.

He still has Alaskan pipeline arms. The barrel chest. Those thick thighs with the roadrunner tattoo. Even his love handles are hard.

"Conditioning has always been important to me," said White, the former defensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and University of Maryland. "If it wasn't for my neck, I would have played till I was 40. Once you start sitting around, you waste away mentally as well as physically."

White's tenacity drove him through 14 years in the NFL, a career that included being named to nine Pro Bowl teams, co-MVP of Super Bowl XII and Defensive Lineman of the Year in 1978.

White will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, a great honor for some players but almost a footnote for White.

"This is a great moment for all of us -- Randy, John Dutton, Larry Cole and Too Tall Jones," said Harvey Martin, a former defensive linemate of White's who is a Dallas broadcaster and salesman. "We had one of the top three defensive lines in the history of pro football, and he may have been the best."

White isn't overwhelmed.

He calls the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award plaques he received as college football's most outstanding lineman "dust collectors," but his chest swells when he tells how he caught the 10 1/2 -pound bass mounted on his wall.

"It's a great honor, and every pro player wants to end up in the Hall of Fame. It's like the final stamp on your career," said White. "But there are a lot of guys who played just as hard as me.

"Actually, I hope the ceremony goes kind of quick. After it's over, I'd like to go fishing." In October 1974, the Dallas Cowboys traded quarterback Craig Morton to the New York Giants for the right to pick second in the 1975 draft. The Atlanta Falcons chose quarterback Steve Bartkowski with the first pick.

The Cowboys then drafted Randy White. Picking third, the Baltimore Colts took guard Ken Huff, and the Chicago Bears, selecting fourth, chose Walter Payton, who went on to become one of the greatest running backs in history.

The Cowboys have never had any regrets.

Stronger, faster, smarter

"Nothing against the other players, but Randy had qualities that only a few players ever had," said former Cowboys coach Tom Landry. "Randy went hard all the time, whether it was in practice or against a Pro Bowl player. He played as if every play was his last. Randy was one of three players, Tony Dorsett and Too Tall Jones being the others, that put us at a high level during the late 1970s and early 1980s."

White was the quintessential modern player: stronger, faster, smarter than most, if not all, defensive tackles.

Payton, who never shied away from a tackle, said the hardest hit he ever took came in a collision with White in a 1977 playoff game.

Former Washington Redskins offensive line coach Joe Bugel said White was so fast, he had his guards practice blocking against a variety of players, including wide receivers.

White became the focus of many game plans, such a force that he was often double- and triple-teamed.

He still made great plays.

"Randy's name is synonymous with that Philadelphia play in 1980, where quarterback Ron Jaworski takes a three-step dropback, and Randy hits him just as the ball is released," said Martin. "Scott Fitzkee makes the catch over the middle, and Randy tackles him 20 yards down the field. The point is that Fitzkee never broke stride."

That type of play earned White the nickname "Manster" from Waters and Dallas linebacker Dave Edwards.

"I would just stand back there and watch him demolish people," said Waters, who played safety. "I've been around great players, like Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett and John Elway, but Randy was the greatest player. He would permeate energy in the huddle. The one year he held out of camp, the players almost begged for ownership to bring him in. You would look at that big old body, and just be glad he was on your team.

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