There are several theories on how the Dallas Cowboys acquired defensive tackle Randy White. The cover story put out by the club is, he was recruited off the campus of the University of Maryland a dozen years ago.
No one believes this.
The prevailing opinion is, he was brought back by an expedition investigating reports of an island creature so awesome the native population had to leave human sacrifices for it when they heard it coming down the mountain.
Still others thought he was really Bigfoot in a helmet. His own teammate, Charlie Waters, after playing behind him for a year, strongly suspected he was dealing with some kind of an experiment gone wild, and he dubbed White the "Manster," for half-man, half-monster. He reported that the team had strict orders not to let the creature see the Empire State Building on trips to New York because he had this uncontrollable urge to climb it and swat airplanes. And God knows what would happen if he ever spotted Fay Wray.
These myths have grown because, on the field, Manster White plays with the demonic fury of something that just broke out of a cage. A lot of defensive tackles tear the quarterback's helmet off. White has to be careful the head isn't still in it. Once, Pittsburgh center Mike Webster, after a day of beating at the paws of White, was asked if he had any thoughts about the tackle. "Yeah, how'd they get all the hair off it?" he snapped. Another player was asked once whether he thought White was the strongest man in the world. "Yeah," he said, "and whatever world he comes from, too."
A reporter tried to be soothing to a battered center after a hard game. "Well, at least he doesn't talk to you and call you names like Lyle Alzado." The center was unconvinced. "Yeah, well look at it this way: At least Alzado can talk."
In football, coaches have chalk talks for everything. The only one they have for White, before the game, is, "Don't eat the quarterback." When he does throw the quarterback, they assign two officials to run over there like rodeo clowns and distract him immediately before he stomps on him.
Journalism is not ordinarily thought of as a hazardous profession. But requesting an interview with Randy White is an assignment that requires some precaution. "Should I wear anything special?" I wanted to know. "Like what?" the startled Cowboy wanted to know. "Oh, a Magnum .406 or whatever those guns Dirty Harry shoots. Or Mace. Should I bring a doctor? A lawyer? A priest?"
"Randy wouldn't hurt a fly," the man said. "Unless you're carrying a football. Just don't bring a football. That does drive him crazy. He'll try to take it away from you. Or you from it."
"Do I talk directly to it, excuse me, I mean \o7 him\f7 ?" I wanted to know. "What do you mean?" he said. "I mean, do we both get in the cage or is there a screen there we talk through?"
"You've got it all wrong," he protested. "Randy is a pussycat."
In the lunch that followed, Randy White slid a tray of food and four glasses of a maroon liquid onto the table. I feared the worst. "Er, ah, that isn't blood, is it?" I asked him, pointing to the glasses. "That's fruit-ade," Randy said, surprised.
I was heartened to note that the meat he had was cooked and had been previously killed and that he ate it with a knife and fork just like everybody else and didn't just tear off hunks of it with his teeth.
He was also considerably less than 10 feet tall and probably didn't weigh a pound over 280. "Do you talk?" I asked him. He looked startled. "Do I talk?!" he exclaimed. "When?"
"Oh," I explained hastily. "I mean, do you talk to your opponent on the field. Do you say, 'I'm gonna tear your nose off!' You know. Like Alzado."
"Naw," the manster said. "It breaks my concentration." I made a note: "Says he doesn't talk. Doesn't say, 'I'll tear your nose off,' for fear he'll forget himself and do it."
"Has football changed? For defensive tackles?" I asked him. "Oh, sure. They let the offense grab you, pull you, hold you, do everything but tackle you now. They took away everything from the defense--the head slap, the push. You can't even hit the quarterback after he's gotten rid of the ball."
"Someone's always taking the fun out," I sympathized. "Oh, no, it's all right," Randy White said. "You got to have quarterbacks in this league. They sell tickets."
Manster, indeed! I thought to myself. I sought out the PR director, Doug Todd. "OK," I said, "where's the real Randy White? Keep him locked in an attic, do you? Where'd you get this guy I was talking to, Central Casting?"
"What do you mean?!" Todd exclaimed. "That's America's Tackle! On America's Team! America's Sweetheart! Off the field, anyway."
"You know," I said, "in Hollywood, they put a guy in a gorilla suit to scare the world. Here you put the gorilla in a guy's suit so he won't scare the world. But I'm not fooled. Neither was Charlie Waters."
Said Todd: "Wait a minute! Randy might star in one of those Tarzan of the Apes movies!"
"As Tarzan?!" I asked. "Well, not exactly," he admitted.