A Legend Among Us: Pro Football Hall of Famer Tommy McDonald Dies At 84

      On September 24th, the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame wide receiver Tommy McDonald died at age 84. The city of Philadelphia mourns the loss of a man who influenced his community on and off the field. A man of character and integrity that many remember him for his committed work ethics, talents, or simply respect.

      McDonald’s legacy is quite inspirational to football players athletes young and old. The wide receiver contributed a big role to the Philadelphia Eagles organization and quarterback Norm Van Brocklin, who helped them win the 1960 NFL Championship. What makes McDonald unique from most pro football players was his ability to play the game against odds and murmuring of critics, that believed he was ‘too small to play in the NFL’. Despite the criticism, the Eagles drafted McDonald as a third round pick in 1957.

      New Mexico was the birthplace of Tommy McDonald where he developed skills to play football, basketball, and track during high school. McDonald did not allow limitations be an excuse for him not to exceed expectations. His rookie season in the NFL began on kick returns and punts. In a game against the Washington Redskins, McDonald was placed as a flanker mid-season. This gave way to an unforgettable bond between QB Norm Van Brocklin and McDonald. He went on to scoring two touchdowns, one a 61-yarder that left everyone in awe.

      The most memorable touchdown pass in Eagles franchise history, was a 35-yard catch by McDonald surpassing the Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in a 17-13 win at Franklin Field. According to ESPN, with Philadelphia for seven seasons, “the durable McDonald” had 287 receptions for 5,499 yards, with a per-catch average of 19.2 yards. He had 66 touchdowns in 88 games, and No. 25 went to the Pro Bowl five straight seasons (1959-63). Despite ranking second in league history in touchdown catches, fourth in yards receiving and sixth in receptions by his retirement in 1968, McDonald (5-foot-7, 175 lbs.) had to wait 30 years before becoming the smallest player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

      He played 12 NFL seasons for five teams and finished as a six-time Pro Bowler.

      “Tommy McDonald played the game with a passion and energy that was second to none,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “He will be remembered as one of the most exciting players ever to play his position, but what really separated him and made him so unique was the infectious personality and charisma that he brought to his everyday life. He had a genuine love for this team, for the Philadelphia community, for the fans, and, of course, his family. He was a man of character, both on and off the field, who exemplified all the qualities that we hope to represent as an organization.

      “He was a champion, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and one of the most genuine individuals I have ever met. On behalf of the Philadelphia Eagles, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the entire McDonald family.”   

      McDonald will continue to live on in every Philadelphians mind and heart. This patriotic city of sports lifts up the fallen Eagle with high esteem. May he soar on through his legacy and family.

      Sources: ESPN, Official Philadelphia Eagles

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