Tommy McDonald, the Hall of Fame wide receiver primarily with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1950s and ‘60s, was honored on Tuesday, Mar. 20, by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company as a Hometown Hall of Famer™ at his alma mater Highland High School in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Class of 1998 enshrinee was recognized in front of family, friends, former teammates and students at Highland High School as he received his historic Hometown Hall of Famer™ plaque which will live permanently at the school to serve as an inspiration to students and athletes alike. Prior to Tuesday’s ceremony, McDonald was welcomed by a lively student body at an outdoor pep rally, complete with high school football players, cheerleaders and his former teammates singing, chanting and welcoming him back to his alma mater. The energetic McDonald was not shy in clapping and chanting along with the students and also signed autographs for dozens of students bringing jerseys, helmets and even athletic shoes for the Hall of Famer to sign.
McDonald's impact on the community was recalled by his brother C.R. McDonald who presented the historic plaque to McDonald as a crowd of 200 watched. Tommy was visibly moved and emotional as he spoke to the audience about his time in Albuquerque and his fruitful career.
"Don't ever let people tell you that you can't achieve your dreams. Have integrity and drive to reach your goals," said McDonald. "People told me I was too small to play in the league, but that didn't matter to me because I believed in myself."
Following the plaque presentation with McDonald still on stage, the Highland football coach presented him with a special football signed by each player on the 2011-12 Highland squad.
The ceremony was emceed by Highland High School Principal Scott Elder with additional speakers including Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises President/CEO George Veras and Monte Sullivan of Allstate Insurance Company.
"Today's demonstration of spirit and enthusiasm from Highland School student body tells us why Tommy McDonald became a Pro Football Hall of Famer,” commented Veras. “We congratulate Principal Scott Elder for leading today's ceremony and embracing the Hometown Hall of Famer Plaque program."
"To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to cities like Albuquerque is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees," said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate's senior vice president of marketing.
As a standout student-athlete at Highland High School, McDonald averaged more than 20 yards per carry and broke the state scoring record with 157 points. After high school, McDonald excelled as an All-American running back at the University of Oklahoma where the Sooners never lost a game during his three years on the varsity team.
McDonald was a third-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1957. The sure-handed receiver amassed an impressive 495 receptions for 8,410 yards and 84 touchdowns in his 12-year career that also included stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, and Cleveland Browns. He was especially known for his ability to score TDs and posted an incredible career ratio of touchdowns to receptions of 1 in 5.9. McDonald, who still owns the Eagles’ single-game receiving yardage record (237), retired as ranked second in touchdown catches and sixth in receptions at the time of his retirement.
The Hometown Hall of Famers™ program will next honor Randall McDaniel, former Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard, in his hometown of Avondale, Ariz., on Thursday, Mar. 22.
More on the Hometown Hall of Famers™ program>>>