Randy White

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Discover how Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy winner Randy White became known as “The Manster” during his HoF career with the Dallas Cowboys. 

White terrorized opposing quarterbacks while fighting through double and sometimes triple-teams by the opposition for most of his career.

A nine-time Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro selection along with a Super Bowl XII co-MVP award, Randy White was one of the NFL’s greatest defensive lineman ever to play the game.

Early life

Randall Lee White was born January 15, 1953 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As the oldest of the three White children, Randy was given the nickname “Hunk” as a baby.

Randy attended Thomas McKean High School in Wilmington, Delaware where he was a standout baseball and football player.

As a senior, Randy White was named Delaware’s Athlete of the Year as a senior. Yet, only two colleges recruited the talented ballplayer.

One of the schools interested in the standout defensive end was the University of Maryland.

randy white

Randy had his doubts about Maryland considering they were one of the worst programs in the country, but he figured at least his parents would be able to attend his games.

The Terrapins hadn’t had a winning season since 1962 but the school had high hopes that the local kid would turn the program around.

In the early ’70s, freshman were not allowed to play varsity, so Randy toiled on the freshman team at fullback.

Coach Jerry Claiborne quickly determined that one of his strongest and quickest players on the team was playing fullback.

Claiborne approached Randy with the idea of switching to defense and the talented freshman told his coach he would give it a shot.

At 248 pounds, there was some concern that Randy might not be big enough to handle offensive linemen.

But Claiborne’s schemes called for quick and strong defensive lineman that could avoid being engaged at the point of attack.

Randy was already stronger than most lineman in the conference and his coaches believed the sophomore defensive tackle could dominate the interior.

They were right.

After leading Maryland to the conference title his senior season while being named ACC Player of the Year, Randy White was named All-American and awarded the Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award as the nation’s best interior lineman.

In Maryland’s Liberty Bowl loss to Tennessee, Randy was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. A rare feat for a defensive player on the losing team.

Professional football

The 1974 season for the Dallas Cowboys had been a disappointment and the team was looking for an impact player to provide a spark.

Randy White
Number: 54
Position: Linebacker, Defensive End/Tackle
Nickname: “The Manster”
Personal Information
Date of Birth: January 15, 1953
Place of Birth: Pittsburgh, PA
Career Information
College: Maryland
Drafted: 1975 - Round: 1 - Pick: 2
Career History
  • Dallas Cowboys (1978—88)
Career Highlights
  • Pro Bowl (9x) (1977—85)
  • First Team All-Pro (9x) (1977—85)
  • Outland Trophy (1974)
  • Lombardi Award (1974)
  • College All-American (2x) (1973, 74)
  • 1980s NFL All-Decade Team
  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor (1994)
Career Statistics
  Tackles: 1,104
  Sacks: 111
  Touchdowns: 1

Throughout the ‘74 campaign, the newly formed World Football League (WFL) was signing veterans from NFL rosters that included Calvin Hill, D.D. Lewis, and Pat Toomay from the Cowboys.

The Cowboys were an aging team and now they needed to replace the veterans that were defecting to the WFL.

General manager Tex Schramm began addressing the issue by trading Craig Morton to the New York Giants during the early portion of the ‘74 season.

The Giants were desperate to upgrade their quarterback position and the decision to move Morton for the Giants’ first round pick in the 1975 draft would prove to be invaluable with the retirement of defensive end Bob Lilly.

New York and Baltimore each had finished 2—12 during the 1974 regular season and flipped a coin to see who would select first in the draft.

Baltimore won the coin toss, then promptly traded the pick to Atlanta where they selected quarterback Steve Bartkowski.

Eager to fill the void left by the departure of Lilly, the Cowboys selected Randy White with the second overall pick they received from the Giants.

White was rated the best defensive player in the draft with his size, strength, speed, and high motor.

Randy was the gem of a draft class that would become known as “The Dirty Dozen.” A total of twelve rookies would make the roster, turning what was supposed to be a rebuilding year in Dallas into the team’s third Super Bowl appearance.

During training camp it was obvious to the coaches and players that Randy White was a player. The only question was would he best suited at linebacker or as a defensive lineman?

Struggles at linebacker, dominance at tackle

Head coach Tom Landry determined White would be best suited at middle linebacker despite defensive line coach Ernie Stautner’s insistence that the Maryland rookie would be a better down lineman.

 

Starting middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan was nearing the end of his career and Landry envisioned Randy eventually taking over that role.

But Randy had never played linebacker in college and couldn’t get used to standing up on defense.

He struggled with pass coverage and Landry’s Flex defense was an assignment-based defense that required players to hold their lanes in order to avoid a cutback by the runner.

The middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense and has to command the huddle. The shy and quite White was out of his element in that role and often found himself tongue-tied and unable to make eye contact with his teammates.

Randy White was more of a seek and destroy type of player.

His first two seasons were spent playing mostly special teams and backing up Lee Roy Jordan on third-and-short situations.

Landry believed Randy could best utilize his size and strength to plug the middle of the field when the opposing offense was likely to call a running play.

Randy knew how to play middle linebacker in the Flex, but he always felt like he was one step behind.

Then, during training camp in 1977, Landry called White into his office and asked him if he was interested in moving to defensive tackle. Randy told Coach Landry he just wanted to play football and would play wherever he could best help the Cowboys win games.

Landry nodded his head, and that was that.

At tackle, White now had the freedom to roam sideline to sideline and he blossomed at his new position. He earned All-Pro honors that year and repeated the feat for nine consecutive seasons.

Game face

Randy White was all business on game day and his personality was downright scary.

Not only did he never help up an opponent after a tackle, he never extended an arm for a teammate either.

Safety Charlie Waters often tells the story of the only time he disobeyed the orders of Coach Landry.

During a timeout meeting on the sideline, Landry demanded that Charlie rip into White for his lack of pass rush. When Waters checked back into the huddle and looked at Randy, he chickened out and told him, “Keep up the good work.”

Rare was the offensive lineman who got the best of Randy White, but Greg Kouch was one guy who seemed to enjoy playing against the Cowboys’ All-Pro.

Randy had started training in martial arts his third season with the Cowboys and began using some of the techniques he was learning against opposing offensive lineman.

The NFL program on this day featured White on the cover taking instruction from Dan Inassanto, the legendary Bruce Lee’s student.

During the game, these two mammoths were going after each other until a particularly violent collision repelled the men apart sending Randy into his martial arts ready-to-fight stance.

Kouch immediately dropped his hands and fired back in jest saying, “What are ya gonna do, Manster… Kung Fuuuuu me?”

Randy couldn’t help but burst out in laughter. It was one of the few times anyone ever saw The Manster break from character as the intimidator of the Cowboys.

Crossing the picket line

When Randy negotiated his final contract with the Cowboys, he received a $6 million annuity that would pay him an equal amount over the span of twenty years after he retired.

However, a loophole in the deal stipulated the team reserved the right to void the agreement if the player failed to render services anytime during his contract.

In other words… no play, no pay.

On the surface, this didn’t seem to be a problem for a player who had missed only one game since becoming a Cowboy in 1975.

Then the unthinkable happened.

Two games into the 1987 season the players went on strike. Randy was nearing the end of his career and was worried he risked losing his annuity if he sided with the players. He decided to “no strike.”

The first day Randy pulled into the parking lot in his Ford truck, Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer and tight end Doug Cosbie showered him with obscenities and called him a “scab for life.”

Running back Tony Dorsett later attempted to prevent Randy from collecting his paycheck by standing in front of his pickup. An enraged White popped the clutch causing his truck to lurch forward and forcing Dorsett to jump out of the way.

When asked to comment about the incident, Dorsett told The Dallas Morning News that “as a team, captain, he let the team down. But he’s going to make the All—Pro list this year—the ‘Scabs’ All—Pro list.”

Dorsett finished the interview by calling White “Captain Scab.”

Ironically, Dorsett discovered a week later that his annuity had the same stipulations as White’s contract.

One week later… Tony was in uniform for the Cowboys.

Randy hangs ‘em up

The strike-shortened 1987 season also marked one of the low points in Randy White’s career as a painful pinched nerve in his neck reduced him to a below-average tackle. The injury restricted him from raising his hands above his head or turning his head from side to side.

But Randy played through the pain amidst the rumors that he was washed up.

The Cowboys had selected defensive tackle Danny Noonan out of the University of Nebraska in the 1987 NFL football draft to take over as the starter at tackle while limiting the injury-plagued White to spot duty.

As the consummate team player, Randy White excepted his role with dignity and channeled his energy into mentoring Noonan and the other young Cowboy defenders.

But White was accustomed to dominating the line of scrimmage and now he was being pushed around by mediocre offensive lineman he used to toy with.

On April 13, 1989, Randy White announced his retirement after a 14-year NFL career finishing with 111 career sacks while only missing one game in 1979 due to injury.

In his first year of eligibility, Randy White was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 30, 1994 with teammates Tony Dorsett and Jackie Smith. That fall, club owner Jerry Jones honored the long-time Cowboy with a place in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.

Today, Randy devotes his time to owning and operating his restaurant, Randy White’s Hall of Fame Barbeque, in Frisco, Texas while serving as a spokesman for Smokey Mountain Chew, a tobacco and nicotine-free product.

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