Ex-Falcon McDonald, who played without a face mask, dies


Tommy McDonald, the small, speedy and sure-handed receiver who teamed with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin to help the Philadelphia Eagles win the 1960 NFL championship, has died. He was 84.

His death was announced Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Details were not disclosed.

McDonald played one season for the Falcons. In 1967, he had 33 catches and four touchdowns in eight games. He was noteworthy for not wearing a face mask on his helmet that season.

McDonald was a two-time All-American from Oklahoma who played 12 NFL seasons for five teams and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection. When he retired in 1968, he ranked second in league history in touchdown catches, fourth in yards receiving and sixth in receptions.

But the 5-foot-7, 175-pound McDonald had to wait 30 years before becoming the smallest player inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"Oh, baby!" McDonald shouted in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 1, 1998. "Do I look excited, like I just won the lottery or the jackpot? Yes! I'm in the Hall of Fame!"

His induction speech was equal parts hysterics and histrionics. McDonald told jokes and tossed his 25-pound bronze bust in the air. He pulled out a radio and danced to disco music — all on the steps of the hallowed hall.

"Tommy McDonald lived life like he played the game of football. He was charismatic, passionate and had fun," Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said. "He was such a character. Heaven is a happier place today."

In seven seasons with Philadelphia, 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).

He was traded to Dallas in 1964 and dealt the next season to the Los Angeles Rams. Determined to show he could still be a force in the league, McDonald had a solid season with a career-best 67 receptions for 1,036 yards and nine TDs and earned another trip to the Pro Bowl.

A running back at Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson, McDonald was an All-American in 1955 and 1956. He never experienced a loss with the Sooners, winning 31 straight games, part of Oklahoma's 47-game run.

In 1956, McDonald finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Paul Hornung of Notre Dame and Johnny Majors of Tennessee.

Born in New Mexico, McDonald's family moved from the small town of Roy to Albuquerque before his sophomore year in high school. He developed into a three-sport athlete in football, basketball and track


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