RARE BRAND OF COWBOY

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

"He wasn't a dirty player, but had a nasty demeanor on game day. Randy was involved with every aspect of the game. He built every part of his body as a weapon."

When the NFL rules committee allowed offensive linemen to extend their hands in the late 1970s, White enrolled in a martial arts class to learn how to break their grip. Similar techniques are common in pass rushing today.

Landry took advantage of White's quickness and speed by putting him in the "flex" (2 to 3 yards off the line of scrimmage) so White could see, run and hit almost at the same time.

"The first two years they tried to turn him into a [Dick] Butkus, but we didn't have a Butkus-like defense," Martin said of White's experiment at linebacker. "Randy wanted to whip the son of a gun immediately."

White said: "I really miss Sundays, being in those robotic trances. I haven't had anything top that thrill. Well, maybe one, when my daughter was born."

Started out as a fullback

White's decision to attend Maryland in 1971 was easy.

"Our high school team won five games in two years, so only

three schools were interested," said White, who went to Thomas McKean High in Delaware. "Virginia Tech wasn't in the running and Arizona State was too far away. That left only Maryland."

White was a 212-pound fullback his freshman year, but when Jerry Claiborne became the Terps' head coach in 1972, he asked White to switch positions.

"He had good speed and movement, but I asked Randy if he wanted to be an All-American," said Claiborne. "He said yes. I told him he could be one of the five best linemen in the United States, but he had to realize how much work that it would take. That was it."

Hardly.

White became Claiborne's prized pupil in the Terps' nationally -- recognized weight program. In two years, White gained 36 pounds. He improved his bench press from 260 to 430.

As White grew, so did Maryland's success. The Terps went from the Bottom 10 list to an ACC championship and two consecutive bowl appearances by the time White graduated in 1974.

Claiborne also has his favorite White story.

"We were playing Clemson one year and they had a fourth-and-goal on our 1-yard line," said Claiborne. "They ran a dive behind their offensive guard. Our line, including Randy, was slanting in the other direction. It's a sure touchdown, but Randy was so fast that he cut back and still stopped the play. Their coach, Red Parker, told me afterward that he didn't see how it was humanly possible for anybody to make that play."

It was against Tennessee in the 1974 Liberty Bowl that Dallas personnel director Gil Brandt became impressed with White.

"Gil was raving how he was making tackles all over the field, lining up on the left, and knocking people over to the right," said Landry. "Rarely did he get so excited."

But former Maryland players knew White was special.

"I remember when the pros came out to time him in the 40-yard --, and Randy ran with the wide receivers," said John Zernhelt, Duke's offensive line coach and a former White teammate. "He ran a 4.6. I knew on that day that 20 years down the road someone would be calling and asking me about Randy White."

A love of animals

White was always a sucker for animals.

One summer after Cowboys training camp in California, White hid a stray dog in a cardboard box and took him home on the team plane because he'd heard a dogcatcher would kill dogs left hanging around after training camp.

White's father was a butcher and his parents worked a small farm in Pennsylvania. His grandfather could chew tobacco and dinner at the same time.

"I once went to his parents' farm, and Randy taught me how to grow mushrooms," said Waters. "That was exciting for him. He has always been humble. Reporters used to try to get these great Manster quotes about Randy's next matchup, and he would say, 'I'm going to do the best that I can and see what happens.'

"He's a simple person with simple pleasures."

White is divorced from former Dallas model Vicci Hanes. Waters says she probably owns the $500,000 house they owned in North Dallas, the one with all the marble, parquet and the Italian tile pool. Gone, too, is the Mercedes.

White drives a pickup truck and stays away from city life.

He hasn't gone through all of his money -- he owns several properties, including two Texas restaurants, and makes numerous public appearances.

"There's a stigma attached to big linemen, but Randy is very bright and handles money very well," said Waters. "He's a man's man who just likes to sleep in a barn. Who's going to tell him to get out?"

White says he's living in his own environment.

"I don't remember all the things that happened -- the plays, the games -- but it was the most enjoyable time in my life," said White, who is second on the Cowboys' all-time list in tackles (1,104) and sacks (111). "I have my injuries and they hurt sometimes, depending on which side I roll out of the bed.

TH "But I would do it all over again. At least I can still go fishing."

OTHER INDUCTEES

In addition to Randy White, here are the others who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio:

* Running back Leroy Kelly

* Running back Tony Dorsett

* Defensive back Jimmy Johnson

* Tight end Jackie Smith

* Coach Bud Grant

Leroy Kelly's career at Morgan State and with the Cleveland Browns will be profiled Thursday in The Sun.

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