RANDALL MCDANIEL CARING ABOUT KIDS

September 24, 1995

Their experience with adult males had not been good, so at first
the kids at the YWCA Transitional Housing Program in St. Paul
were intimidated, even frightened, by Randall McDaniel, the
Vikings' 6'3", 274-pound All-Pro offensive guard. "A lot of them
had been abused by men, or their mothers have been abused by
men," says McDaniel's wife, Marianne. So it usually took a while
for the kids to trust McDaniel and the teammates he would bring
with him every Tuesday during the season. But once the kids felt
safe, once they got past the "How much do you weigh?" stage of
the relationship, they quickly cut to the heart of the matter,
as kids have a way of doing. They looked suspiciously at Randall
and asked, "Why do you care?"

Good question. Why, indeed, would a guy who has it made, a star
with a three-year, $7.875 million contract, be so committed to
working with emotionally scarred children? "Because it's the
only thing in the world that enables us to make sense of life in
the NFL," Marianne explains. "We get paid an obnoxious amount of
money to play a silly game. So the question was, How can we
balance that with our social consciences? The answer was to take
that opportunity and make a difference with it."

Randall and Marianne met at Arizona State, where as a senior, in
1987, Randall was named the Pac-10's outstanding offensive
lineman. The mutual attraction was the commitment and
sensitivity they found in each other. "There was something I
found atypical about Randall," Marianne says. "He came from a
very meager background. He didn't have money, but he had love
and support from his parents."

In the 1988 draft McDaniel was the 19th overall pick, a
selection that has turned out to be one of the best in Viking
history. Heading into Sunday's game against the Steelers,
McDaniel has started 93 consecutive games. He's also hoping to
extend a string of six consecutive Pro Bowl seasons. (The
alltime Viking record is nine by Hall of Famer Alan Page.)

Marianne recruited Randall to work at the YWCA Center, and
Randall recruited some of his teammates, both single players and
couples. "It's good for the kids to see husbands and wives
together," says Randall, "so they can see that not everything is
bad about being married." Randall's only complaint is that
Marianne always assigned him the messiest jobs, whether it was
making ropes or papier-mache pumpkins at Halloween or cookies at
Christmas.

"You know you're a rookie at the bottom when you get assigned to
Randall's group," Marianne says. "But the kids light up when
they see Randall, and he lights up when he sees them. It's just
great to see these big guys sitting there with the kids and
making things. The kids get to see the nurturing side of men."

It's more than ironic that McDaniel blocks for quarterback
Warren Moon, who this summer was charged with abusing his wife.
Besides that, coach Dennis Green and assistant Richard Solomon
were in the headlines after being accused of sexual harassment.
What does Randall say when kids ask him about Moon, Green and
Solomon? "We deal with it honestly," he says. "I say that
everybody is human and that this can happen to anybody."

They are no longer affiliated with the YWCA, but Randall and
Marianne hope to have the Randall McDaniel Foundation up and
running by January. They will be able to build on what they've
done without having to worry about the vagaries of government
funding. "I'm asked, 'Why don't you have TV stations cover your
work?'" says Marianne. "But we're not in it for that. Everybody
should be doing this. This should be the norm, not the
exception."

--W.F.R.

COLOR PHOTO: LAYNE KENNEDY The Vikings' All-Pro guard provides a positive male image for children from broken homes. [Randall McDaniel]

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