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MCT 2009

In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.

Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.

Randall McDaniel


Even before Randall McDaniel put on football pads for the first time, there was a pretty good indication he might grow into an explosive offensive lineman one day.

That was when his local Pop Warner team told the Avondale youngster that he was simply too big to play against kids his age.

"I should probably thank Pop Warner for what they did," McDaniel said last month, from his home in Minnesota. "It made me a more well-rounded player. I played basketball, baseball, ran track. Any sport, I did it."

Then, when he finally was allowed to play football at Agua Fria High School, McDaniel began excelling. He attracted major college attention at Agua Fria, which was hardly a football factory.

"Our senior year in football we had 22 guys," he said about the school near Phoenix. "Eleven starters went both ways, and we made it to the playoffs. We had a ball."

McDaniel enrolled at Arizona State, where he helped ASU win the Rose Bowl and earned all-Pac-10 honors twice and all-America credentials as a senior in 1987. He was chosen 19th overall in the 1987 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings, the first offensive guard taken.

Supremely athletic for someone with a 6-foot-4-inch, 270-pound frame - and with skills developed in part by all those other sports - McDaniel became one of the best pulling guards in NFL history. Over his 14-year playing career with the Vikings, McDaniel started 186 straight games, was selected All-Pro nine times, and made an NFL-record 12 consecutive trips to the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.

McDaniel, now a member of the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame, spends his time as an elementary school assistant in suburban Minneapolis and keeps a home in the Phoenix area.

The city of Avondale opened an 83,000-foot sports complex named after McDaniel in November 2010.

Hometown; current age

Avondale; 46

He said it

"Any time a guy weighing 270 pounds runs into a guy weighing 190 pounds, he should be able to run right over him. That's what I do." - McDaniel, in a Pro Football Hall of Fame release

Bruce Pascoe

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