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Having had difficulty blending what appears to be contrasting natures, they were separated briefly a couple of years ago. Randy discovered then that independent as they seemed, life apart—and apart from Jordan—wasn't the answer. He says he now thinks they are making a better go of it because, "When you get to know her, Vicci's really a very warm, entertaining person." And he admires her competitiveness. "She even tries to beat me bass fishing."
Competitiveness is an attribute White much admires in anyone. When his mother visits Dallas, he ridicules her views on football, and he has been known to tell hair-raising stories about her fights in the stands when he was a high school player in Wilmington. "I looked up one time and she was using her umbrella on a guy," he says. But when he drives her to the airport he walks her all the way to the gate and waits to be sure her flight gets off safely.
When White shows a friend through his house in Dallas, he pauses at the 10�-pound bass mounted on a den wall and tells of the thrill he had catching it, but he dismisses the Out-land Trophy and the Lombardi Award (also for best college lineman) as "dust gatherers." "There were a lot of guys who played just as hard and as well as I did those days," he says.
But, of course, there weren't. Probably not as well, certainly not as hard.
Landry says no one ever played football with more intensity than White, except perhaps Ernie Stautner. A square-rigged man with aluminum-colored hair that looks as if it were hammered into his scalp, Stautner, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, played his way into the Hall of Fame as a 235-pound tackle with the Steelers in the '50s. He was listed as being six feet tall then, but the pounding apparently cost him a couple of inches. He had to undergo surgery on both hands recently for the damage done whamming helmets for 20 years. The pain was keeping him awake nights.
Stautner loves White. He reminds him of himself. If the head slap were still legal (it was banned in 1978), Stautner says, "Nobody would ever be able to block Randy." And as for intensity, Stautner says that not even the Cowboys' great Lilly, another Hall of Famer, could match White's relentless pace. "I don't say either one was better, but by comparison, Lilly was more up and down," says Stautner.
"Why was that?" he's asked.
"Lilly was human," Stautner says, with a hint of a smile.
White and Lilly are often compared because Lilly virtually passed the baton to White after the 1974 season. But White spent two years at linebacker before switching to tackle, while the Cowboy coaches played out a Brandt fantasy. He saw White as the successor to Lee Roy Jordan in the middle. What threw that idea off the rails was that White's "legitimate" 4.6 speed forward applied only to one direction. He never learned how to go backward.
Lilly was naturally strong. In college, at Texas Christian University, he used to pick up Volkswagens, from one end and then the other, and move them onto sidewalks to make room to park his car. White made himself strong. After playing fullback and linebacker at 210 pounds in high school, he was told by Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne that if he wanted to be an All-America he would have to make it as a lineman and he'd have to get a lot bigger. White didn't need a dormitory after that—he lived in the weight room. Russ Potts, then the Maryland promotions director, recalls seeing the lights on at night and hearing clanking noises and saying, "That must be Randy." White now bench presses 501 pounds, the Cowboy record.