Tommy McDonald

Class of 1998

Pro Bowls


Receiving yards








"I think catching passes is judgment, mostly. I’ve got good vision; good peripheral vision. I think sometimes I can see things the defensive back doesn’t see. I watch for him to make his move—you’ve got to study the guys in this league—and if he’s a fraction late compensating for mine, then I’ve got him beat."

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

Wide receiver Tommy McDonald was a third-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1957. An All-America choice at Oklahoma, he won the Maxwell Award in 1956 as college football’s player of the year. During his three years of varsity play at Oklahoma, the Sooners never lost a game.

A six-time Pro Bowl selection (1959-1963 and 1966), McDonald played seven seasons with the Eagles (1957-1963), one with the Dallas Cowboys (1964), two with the Los Angeles Rams (1965-1966), and one each with the Atlanta Falcons (1967) and the Cleveland Browns (1968).

Although he was just 5-9 and 176 pounds, McDonald was extremely durable and missed only three games in his first 11 seasons. He had elusive speed and used his running skills brilliantly after making his catches, finishing his career with an average of 17 yards per catch and 84 touchdowns.

A sure-handed receiver, McDonald had few peers when it came to putting the ball in the end zone. In the years 1958-62, he had 56 touchdown receptions in 63 games, including a 35-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Norm Van Brocklin in the 1960 NFL Championship Game in which the Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-13.

His career ratio of touchdowns-to-receptions is an impressive 1 in 5.9. He also caught at least one pass in 93 consecutive games. Used primarily as a kickoff and punt-return specialist during his rookie season, McDonald ranked sixth all-time in receptions (495), fourth in yards receiving (8,410) and second in touchdown catches (84) when he retired following the 1968 season.

McDonald, who was born in Roy, New Mexico, had an outstanding season in 1961. Not only did he lead the NFL in reception yardage (1,144) and in touchdowns (13), but in a game against the New York Giants he caught seven passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, which is still an Eagles’ single-game best.

1957 Philadelphia
1958 Philadelphia
1959 Philadelphia
1960 Philadelphia
1961 Philadelphia
1962 Philadelphia
1963 Philadelphia
1964 Dallas
1965 Los Angeles
1966 Los Angeles
1967 Atlanta
1968 Cleveland
Career Total
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 2-2-100, 1 TD; Rushing: 17-22; Punt Returns: 73-404, 1 TD; Kickoff Returns: 51-1055

Championship Games

1960 NFLPhiladelphia Eagles 17, Green Bay Packers 13
McDonald started at right halfback for the Eagles. He caught three passes for a game-high 90 yards and one touchdown. His score, a 35-yard pass play from Norm Van Brocklin in the second quarter, was the Eagles first touchdown of the day.

1968 NFL – Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0
McDonald played for the Browns but did not start. He had no catches.

All-NFL: 1960 (NEA)

All-NFL Second Team: 1959 (AP, UPI) • 1960 (UPI) • 1962 (AP, NEA)

All-Eastern Conference: 1959 (SN) • 1960 (SN)

(6) – 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966

(At time of his retirement following 1968 season)

• [2nd] Most Touchdowns Receiving, Career – 84
• [3rd] Most Consecutive Games with a Reception – 93 (1957-1964)
• [3rd] Most Yards Receiving, Career – 8,410

Eagles' records held by McDonald
(Records through the 1963 season, McDonald's last season with Philadelphia)



• [1st] Most Touchdowns Receiving, Season – 13 (1960, 1961)
• [1st] Most Receptions, Season – 64 (1961)
• [1st] Most Yards Receiving, Game – 237 (vs. New York Giants, Dec. 10, 1961)
• [1st] Most Yards Receiving, Season – 1,146 (1962)
• [1st] Longest Punt Return – 81 yards (vs. New York Giants, Oct. 4, 1959)
• [Tied for 1st] Most TDs, Game – 4 (vs. New York Giants, Oct. 4, 1959 - 3 rec., 1 punt return)
• [Tied for 2nd] Most Receptions, Game – 11 (vs. St. Louis Cardinals, Oct. 15, 1961)



Rams' records held by McDonald
(Records through the 1966 season, McDonald's last season with Los Angeles)

• [Tied 3rd] Most Touchdown Receptions, Season – 9 (1965)
• [4th] Most Receptions, Season – 67 (1965)

Falcons' records held by McDonald
(Records through the 1967 season, McDonald's last season with Atlanta)

• [1st] Most Touchdown Receptions, Season – 4 (1967)
• [Tied 1st] Most Touchdowns, Game – 2 (vs. Minnesota Vikings, Oct. 29, 1967)
• [Tied 1st] Most Consecutive Games with a Reception – 12 (1967)
• [2nd] Longest Pass Reception – 75 yards (vs. Baltimore Colts, Nov. 12, 1967)

Note: McDonald did not set any team records as a member of the Cowboys or Browns.

Year Team W L T Division Finish
1957 Philadelphia Eagles 4 8 0 (5th)
1958 Philadelphia Eagles 2 9 1 (6th)
1959 Philadelphia Eagles 7 5 0 (2nd T)
1960 Philadelphia Eagles 10 2 0 (1st)
1961 Philadelphia Eagles 10 4 0 (2nd)
1962 Philadelphia Eagles 3 10 1 (7th)
1963 Philadelphia Eagles 2 10 2 (7th)
1964 Dallas Cowboys 5 8 1 (5th)
1965 Los Angeles Rams 4 10 0 (7th)
1966 Los Angeles Rams 8 6 0 (3rd)
1967 Atlanta Falcons 1 12 1 (4th)
1968 Cleveland Browns 10 4 0 (1st)

Full Name: Thomas Franklin McDonald

Birthdate: July 26, 1934

Birthplace: Roy, New Mexico

High School: Roy (NM), Highland (Albuquerque, NM)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 24, 1998

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 1, 1998

Presenter: Ray Didinger, Philadelphia sportswriter

Other Members of Class of 1998: Paul Krause, Anthony Muñoz, Mike Singletary, Dwight Stephenson

Pro Career: 12 seasons, 152 games

Drafted: 3rd round (31st overall) by Philadelphia Eagles

Uniform Number: 25, (29, 8)


Tommy McDonald Enshrinement Speech 1998

Presenter: Ray Didinger

Thank you. What a glorious day and what a glorious weekend. Tommy McDonald is here today for one reason. He followed his heart. He had a passion for the game of football and a desire to be the best and he wouldn’t let anything stand in his way. That’s why he is here today. Not because it was easy. Because for Tommy, it never was. Not because it was destiny because then it wouldn’t have taken this long. Tommy is here because he refused to listen to all the people who told him it was impossible. The high school and college coaches who told him he was too small. The pro teams that ignored him in the 1957 draft. They didn’t realize that inside that jackrabbit body beat the heart of a lion.

Tommy McDonald was a great football player. But he’s much more than that. He’s an inspiration to every young person who’s ever been told he wasn’t big enough or fast enough or good enough. He’s proof that the greatest strength is still the strength of the human will. He’s proof that you don’t have to stand tall to stand for everything that’s good in life as well as athletics. Tommy was five-feet-nine and 172 pounds when he played in the National Football League. Today, he becomes the smallest player enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (applause). And that makes his accomplishments all the more remarkable – 495 receptions, more than 9,000 total yards – those are imposing numbers. When Tommy retired in 1968, he was second only to the great Don Hutson with 84 touchdown catches.

Tommy averaged one touchdown for every 5.8 receptions, a figure that ranks among the all-time best and eclipses every current receiver including Jerry Rice. But those numbers, compelling as they are, don’t tell the story of Tommy McDonald. You had to see him play to know how special he was. If I had one wish for the NFL today, in this era of billion-dollar TV deals and million-dollar contracts, it would be that more players played the game the way Tommy McDonald played it. That they gave as much, cared as much and loved it as much as he did, we’d all have a lot more fun. Tommy just didn’t play the game, he embraced it. He played the game the we played it as kids at recess, like he was afraid that any second the bell would ring, and he’d have to go back to class. He was the last player in the league not to wear a facemask. He had his jaw broken in the 1959 league opener, but he played the next week with his jaw wired shut and he still scored four touchdowns to beat the New York Giants. That was Tommy McDonald. He was the smallest man on the field, yet, in the fourth quarter with the game on the line there wasn’t a better receiver in all of football. That’s not just my opinion, Norm Van Brocklin himself said it. And if the “Dutchman” were here today to see Tommy join him in the Hall of Fame, I’m sure he’d say, ‘it’s about time.’

Vince Lombardi once paid the Tommy the ultimate compliment. He said, ‘if I had eleven Tommy McDonalds, I’d win a championship every year.’ Tommy scored a touchdown to beat Lombardi’s Packers in the 1960 championship game. Tommy never won another championship after that, but he played like a champion every week for 12 seasons. Growing up in Philadelphia, I saw every game Tommy played as an Eagle. They were the best Sundays of my life, going to Franklin Field, watching number 25 make catches that seemed like something out of a dream. I know there are thousands of people my age in the Philadelphia area who are pro football fans today, because like me, they grew up watching Tommy McDonald.

He was our hero. He is my hero still. Words cannot describe what a thrill it is for me to be a part of his very special day. It is now my great honor to present, at long last, the newest, the smallest and surely the most grateful member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame – Tommy McDonald. (applause).

Tommy McDonald

Oh boy! God almighty, I feel so good. So good. God almighty! Can you hear an amen back here? Yeah, you got that baby. Move over Ronald McDonald. There’s another McDonald in Canton and we’re both gonna sell hamburgers. . .Big Macs and Little Macs.

Do I look excited or do I seem a little like I’ve won the lottery or the jackpot? Yes. Yes. I’m in. I’m going in the Hall of Fame. Yes!

Does it look like me (grabbing his bronze bust)? Huh? I’m supposed to have good hands (as he tosses the bust in the air). Take a deep breath. Hooo. (Crowd gasps and he tosses the bust again).

I want to introduce my family and I’m going to start with my little woman – Patty, my wife. In fact, when she found out I was going into the Hall of Fame, she says, ‘we have to go someplace special, I’d like to go someplace that I’ve never been’. And I said ‘some place special, some place you’ve never been? How ‘bout the kitchen’. Oh. Oh. Mr. Tagliabue asked me, he says, ‘why do you take your wife every place that you go?’ I said, ’because she is too ugly to kiss goodbye.’ Just teasing, just teasing, I’m kissing up to her is what I’m doing. . .kissing up to her.

I had four kids and I want to introduce them. Sherry and Rudy – stand up babe – don’t be embarrassed, stand up. Chris and Carol, come on, stand up. Tommy and Kim, come on stand up. I forgot my daughter’s last -- what’s your name, kid? Tish. That’s right. Come on, stand up Tish. Okay kiddo. All right.

My mom isn’t here, she’s 88 years old. She’s in a wheelchair and Mom, I just want you know, you and Dad, I wish every kid in the United States would of had you as a pop and a mom. Because you gave me the love, the support and everything that I needed in life. You made my brother and myself your whole life. So, I want to thank you. My dad, he died in ‘94 but he’s standing right here. In fact, Ray Nitschke’s standing here also. Can you see him? Number 66! Yeah! Right here.

And I want you know. My birthday was July the 26th and I want to celebrate a little bit. (He pulls out a boom box and plays “Stayin Alive” and dances). Staying alive baby! Eat your heart out, yeah!

All right and now I liked to do. I want the rest of these guys to be part of my introduction because I want all five of them to get up here and stand right here. And as I introduce you – Paul Krause, number 22 from the Minnesota Vikings! (he chest bumps Krause). All right. Stay up here. Stay up here. Muñoz, Cincinnati, number 78! (chest bumps Muñoz). Next, I want, number 50 – Mike Singletary, the Chicago Bears! (chest bumps Singletary). All right. Dwight Stephenson, number 57, the Miami Dolphins (chest bumps Stephenson). And stay up here, stay up here, last but not least, Tommy McDonald, Philadelphia Eagles! Go! (chest bumps each of the other four and falls to the ground).

Thank you. Canton, I love it! (applause)