My biggest concerns were trying to figure out what I was going to do with my time and what endeavors I wanted to get involved with. While playing I was always thinking ahead and knew one day I would have to retire. I was already thinking then, ‘What am I going to do next, and what direction am I going to go in?’ I made sure to work with people who I thought I would want to work with once I was done with the NFL.
Hall of Famer John Randle currently serves the NFL Legends Community as Director of the Central North Region. He played 14 seasons in the NFL as a defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings.
“ While playing I was always thinking ahead and knew one day I would have to retire. ”
Life sometimes puts things in front of you which tell you what you’re going to do. My family liked to travel, so we would often go to Orlando to Disney World, fly from Dallas (where we were living at the time) to Minnesota, etc.
I would always run into former players; you never know where you’re going to meet someone. I kept running into guys and you either recognize them or they recognize you. It was always kind of “my thing” where I would be meeting these guys with a smile on my face and asking questions like, ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘How are things going in your life?’ A lot of guys talked about, ‘How is your body holding up?’ The conversation then always turned to what guys were doing now. Though I’d hear a lot of former players were doing great, I’d also hear some were between jobs, things weren’t going well for them, etc.
A lot of guys were saying things like, ‘Wow, as soon as you’re done with the NFL, they’re done with you. I wasn’t prepared for this.’ All of a sudden, I was making phone calls trying to help guys out and trying to find some type of resource for those guys. I was making leeway finding opportunities for them and ended up building a reputation for helping guys.
“ All of a sudden, I was making phone calls trying to help guys out and trying to find some type of resource for those guys. I was making leeway finding opportunities for them and ended up building a reputation for helping guys. ”
I leaned on my wife, Candace. During that time my son became sick, so we moved from Dallas to Minnesota. One thing I learned while in Dallas was, I didn’t really know many people. In Minnesota, I had so many resources I could reach out to. From doctors to friends, they could help me with different things I was facing. I always either knew someone who knew someone, or I already had a connection.
Coming back to Minnesota felt like home. It’s where I belonged because I knew everyone and could turn to them. I tell this to guys all the time, ‘If you are going to leave where you played football, hopefully wherever you go you have a lot of resources.’ I can tell guys about what I know from my experience, where you played football you made a name for yourself and that name has the potential to help you out in different situations.
“ I tell this to guys all the time, ‘If you are going to leave where you played football, hopefully wherever you go you have a lot of resources. ”
If I knew what I know now, I would have made more connections, because I love connecting people. For me, it’s like a puzzle. I’m always trying to find ways to connect people and players.
One of the biggest things The Legends Community offers for guys is guidance. If a player retires and feels like he’s going through a fog, we become their eyes and ears to guide them through. The transition for a lot of guys is different, some need assistance and some don’t. If a former player has an idea of what he wants to do, The Legends Community can help a guy go in that direction and get connected. We can assist guys if they're thinking about going back to college.
We have our Building the Bridge program, which can help players going through any personal issues. Football is similar to the military in its close bonds after playing next to each other. Former players say one of the hardest things is trying to find that with people outside of football. Many of them want to reconnect with their teams, former players in their area or region, and we can help.
“ If a player retires and feels like he’s going through a fog, we become their eyes and ears to guide them through. ”
I have three guys who work with me right now, so I assist them in any way I can. My day-to-day most of the time is engaging with the Minnesota Vikings and helping them with anything they have going on. Since I’m here in Minnesota, I'm always going out and looking for former players to sit and talk with. I’ll see if there's anything I can help those guys with, and a lot of time he’ll refer me to another guy to connect with and so on.
The one word I’ve always preached from the beginning was brotherhood. I care about former players. I grew up watching football, I grew up loving the game and I loved being a part of it. I often tell former players, ‘You were able to do something so many other people wish they could have done and even though you retired, to me you’re still my hero. I’m lucky to have played with you, next to you, or to even know you.’ I love going out of my way and helping Legends because they deserve it. They played such an exceptional game. For me, it’s just being able to help where I can and to be a part of a community all around the country.
“ For me, it’s just being able to help where I can and to be a part of a community all around the country. ”
My wife and I are part of a place here in Minnesota called St. David’s Center, which works with special-needs kids. Back in 2012, we set out to help them raise $14 million by 2018 and were able to raise it by 2015. I have other organizations I'm associated with and lucky to be a part of.
Being one of the spokespersons for Sleep Number has been a highlight. Working with Minnesota Vikings has enabled me to do a lot of work with companies like GM and Buick who support the Vikings. Growing up in Texas in a town of 150 people, I never saw myself being able to do everything I’m involved with right now.
“ Growing up in Texas in a town of 150 people, I never saw myself being able to do everything I’m involved with right now. ”
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