Thursday will be a big day for Randall McDaniel. Not quite as big, mind you, as August 8, 2009 when the former Vikings star was formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. But now McDaniel gets to carry part of that honor back to his hometown of Avondale, Arizona.
As part of the "Hometown Hall of Famers" event presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, McDaniel will be formally recognized at Agua Fria High School. At the ceremony, McDaniel will be presented with a plaque that will remain on display permanently at Agua Fria High School.
"I'm honored and I'm excited about doing this," McDaniel said in a phone interview with the Star Tribune on Wednesday. "This program is quite an event. ... I'm looking forward to spending time with family and friends tomorrow. And it's a nice opportunity to share some recognition with my hometown and to leave a little piece of the Hall of Fame out where I started out."
McDaniel, who played his college ball at Arizona State, played in 222 games during his 14-year NFL career. He was a 12-time Pro Bowl selection and was named All-Pro for nine consecutive seasons during his time with the Vikings.
Allstate's "Hometown Hall of Famers" program began last year and 13 Hall of Famers have been honored to date, including four -- Marcus Allen, Sam Huff, Paul Hornung and Tommy McDonald -- earlier this month. Others scheduled to be honored over the next two months include Harry Carson, Art Shell, Paul Brown and Thurman Thomas.
McDaniel said he is proud of the honor and ecstatic to have a chance to return to his roots in Avondale.
"The people here helped shape and mold me into the person I am today," McDaniel said. "There were countless people who invested a lot of time and effort and attention into me to get me to where I was able to get to. So any chance I have to come home and let people know that, hey, Avondale is on the map, it's terrific. And we're putting a piece of Canton right here in my hometown. And if that helps another kid have the ability to dream and work hard and strive for big things, it's a winning effort."
McDaniel also added that his success and longevity in the NFL were a byproduct of hard work, his ongoing thirst to learn and an ability to channel failures in the right direction.
"It comes down to this: my coaches when I was younger never let me quit," he said. "They always reminded me to give my best effort and to bust my butt and I carried that on through college and into the NFL. And my coaches always taught me how to learn from a loss. Today, I think we forget those things where we hand the trophies out to everybody. And kids don't learn to lose. I think you need to learn to lose so you can go back and work harder and address your weaknesses."