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By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000
Offensive guard Randall McDaniel was expected to play in his 200th career game today. He reflects on his career and offers perspectives on the presidential election, caving, dreams, dinosaurs and roller coasters with the Times' Roger Mills.
RM: Through 199 games, what's your proudest moment?
McDANIEL: It was a Monday night game, and (the Vikings) were playing Chicago, and I had sprained my knee and almost didn't play that game. It was Mike Singletary's last year, and I came out of the backfield, met him at the line, and when the play was over, he went airborne and landed 5 yards down the field. I went right through him. Everyone got to see it. That was certainly the most memorable.
RM: Who are the toughest players you have faced?
McDANIEL: Earlier on it was Jerome Brown. He was so big and so strong and quick. I think he's the only guy who has ever run me over. I used to hate playing (the Eagles) when he was there. Recently there are some great guys out there, but the team I hated to prepare for the most was the Bucs, and that was because of (Warren) Sapp. When he first started, you knew he was going to be a great player, but he hadn't figured it all out yet. You could take advantage of him when he was younger. But by the end of his second year going into his third year, he figured it all out. That's when he got really, really tough.
RM: Your lowest moment?
McDANIEL: The NFC Championship Game in 1998 against Atlanta. We were the first team to go 15-1, and then to lose it, that was probably the toughest moment of my career. With about a minute left, we got the ball on our 25. We throw a pass to (Randy) Moss, and it gets deflected down. And so we're second and 10 with about (45) seconds left. Yet, we decide to take a knee and play for overtime. Think about it -- we had the No. 1 offense in the league, we had Moss, Cris Carter, Robert Smith, us up front, and the first play just got batted down. Why not go for it? We'd been in that situation all year long, and we would march it down the field because we knew we could score on anybody. That moment when we decided not to try was the most frustrated I've ever been.
RM: You think about the Hall of Fame?
McDANIEL: No, you can't think about it. If it happens, I'll be happy with it. If it doesn't happen for me, I'll still be happy with what I've done.
RM: Is it true that you're not too fond of the media?
McDANIEL: I wouldn't say that, but things have happened in the past with the media. It's not that they did anything to me, but it was all the questions they were asking about stuff that was going on in Minnesota that had nothing to do with me. Instead of coming to me, they should have gone to the people involved. RM: At this point, who would you rather see as president, George W. Bush or Al Gore?
McDANIEL: I would rather (it) be Al Gore, thank you very much. If I was Al Gore, I would be really upset. He won Florida, and he was assuming he had it wrapped up. And then they snatched it away from him. That's not right. Being the politician that he is, he can't come out and say what he feels. He has to handle it the right way.
RM: Ever wonder what dreams are?
McDANIEL: I feel like I'm meeting a psychiatrist. ... I don't know. I think maybe it's something deep in your subconscious that's wanting to get out. It's on your mind heavily. I tell you what. I have had dreams where I'm doing something that day and then wake up and realize that I have to do that today.
RM: What's something people would be surprised to hear about you?
McDANIEL: People don't know I have done stuff like rock climbing, rappelling and caving. No, I'm not an outdoors type of guy, but it's one of the programs I've been working on.
RM: Which is most challenging?
McDANIEL: The worst thing I have done is the caving. Once, I was in this cave, and I wasn't scared, but you know, you see the movies about bats and you think the bats are going to swarm all over you. Well, I thought when I first got into the cave that I would know when bats are around. The guide told me, "You wouldn't know when the bat is near you." I said, "Yeah, I would." Then he reached up and pulled down this bat hanging right next to my head and said, "You see," and then he put it back. I said, "I guess you're right."
RM: Come on, you must have been scared once?
McDANIEL: I did get scared once. I can't swim, and we were up to our waist in water down in the cave. It was an underground cave (near) St. Louis. My brother-in-law knew I couldn't swim, so he stepped forward a bit and then went under on purpose. I froze right there and wouldn't take another step. I didn't try to save him or anything like that. I knew he could swim, but I can't. Then he came up laughing.
RM: What's up with the 10-year-old Mercedes-Benz?
McDANIEL: It was a present for making my first Pro Bowl (1990). It is the oldest Mercedes in the lot, but it probably has the least amount of miles on it, too, 39,000. You don't drive in the winter in Minnesota. Where I grew up, we didn't have a lot, so when you got something, you had to hold on to it. I'm still that way. Why get rid of something that's still running and working? My wife still has her 1988 Prelude from college.
RM: What happened to the dinosaurs?
McDANIEL: I tend to believe it was the Ice Age since they were cold-blooded animals. We know they went extinct. What, you calling me a dinosaur? I'm not extinct yet.
RM: Wouldn't it be cool if dinosaurs were still around?
McDANIEL: No. No way. You know how big those things are. They were meat eaters. You want to walk around with those guys? If they're going to eat meat, I'm going to be a snack to them.
RM: What do you think of salads?
McDANIEL: I didn't start eating salads until I was 26 years old. My wife was on me forever, saying, "You have to start eating salads, you have to start eating salads." I had one Wednesday. I had it for lunch, but it had chicken in it. I put a lot of chicken on it.
RM: Roller coasters?
McDANIEL: I love all of them. I would ride any roller coaster. There's not one I wouldn't get on. The other day I was at Busch Gardens, and we rode Gwazi. We rode the Lion side of it twice because there was no one there, and then we jumped right into the tiger side without taking a break. That one had more spins. It was great.