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BEST VIKINGS PLAYER Minneapolis 1998 -

Readers' Choice: Cris Carter

By now everyone's heard about this defensive lineman's numbers--the league-leading 84 sacks since 1991, the five straight Pro Bowl starts, the $32.5 million over five years. But what really sets him apart is his appreciation for pro football as high theater. Randle often dons face paint before doing battle, and with his creative, nonstop jabbering, he's raised trash talk to a fine art--reciting lines from movies and digging up personal information about an opponent, the recounting of which can stun the player just long enough for the ultra-quick Randle to dart through his turf toward the QB. Sure, he could own offensive linemen through sheer talent alone, but Randle wants to dominate the mind games, too. When he's on the sideline, he usually stays busy by howling at opponents and teammates alike. "I'm weird," the eight-year veteran from Texas A&I has said about his tactics. Maybe so, but unlike the dour, self-important personalities who populate the NFL, Randle seems to understand that football is an inherently silly game. Besides, after getting double- and triple-teamed by 300-pounders all afternoon, it's no wonder he gets a little goofy.

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