Interview: Ronnie McAda

He is the poster boy for one of the greatest Army football teams ever: The 1996 Black Knights. He was tough and fearless. A true leader. It seems like just yesterday quarterback Ronnie McAda was running the option to perfection, piling up yards, leaving opponents in the dust. Army finished 10-2 in '96 and reached the Independence Bowl.

The Black Knights haven't enjoyed a winning season since.

These days, McAda, 32, lives in Rockwall, Texas, where he owns several car dealerships. He still loves football and another McAda plans on putting on the pads. McAda's son, Tripp, 5, starts flag football later this year. His father isn't sure what position Tripp will play, but with his fathers genes, he can likely excel anywhere.

Ronnie McAda took time this week to talk about the 1996 team and other Army football topics with ArmySports.com:

ArmySports.com: Can you believe that almost 10 years have gone by this fast?
Ronnie McAda: No, not at all. The 1996 season seems like it was just yesterday. It's kind of weird because when I was at West Point the four years seemed like it took forever. Ten years have passed so quick. I guess that's what happens when you start a family and start working. It feels like I played two or three years ago. I still can remember it play-for-play.

AS: What's your most memorable moment from the '96 season?
RM: It probably would be beating Air Force at home. It was at night and we had the largest crowd at West Point we've had since we had been there. They had to bring extra lights (to Michie Stadium). It was big for us because we beat Air Force, we hadn't beaten them in our first three tries.

AS: What about the 18-point comeback against Navy that year?
RM: That's the greatest Army-Navy game I ever played in and I've probably played in three of the top 10 all-time. There were some tight, back and forth games. I have the '96 Army-Navy game on TiVo. I taped it off ESPN Classic and still watch it. My wife is singing glory days in the background right now.

AS: Where would you rank the '96 team as far as greatest Army football teams of all-time?
RM: I would say the teams with Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard are the greatest. Besides them, I would say we have to rank right up there with any other team. We had a solid offense and our defense was awesome. It was definitely one of the greatest Army teams.

AS: What do you remember most about your NFL experience? (McAda was in training camp with Green Bay (1997-99) and Denver (2001)
RM: Just the guys I got to meet, like Brett Favre, Reggie White and Terrell Davis. They were just so down to earth. You see them on television and then you are in camp with them. You are just one of the guys. I got to play golf with Favre, hanging out with them was a good time.

AS: Do you think if you didn't have to serve a five-year military commitment after West Point you could have lasted longer in the NFL?
RM: I think so, but there were other reasons. I think if I came straight from West Point I would have stuck with Green Bay. But there was a coaching change (Ray Rhodes took over for Mike Holmgren). The new staff never really gave me a chance to show what I could do. If I could have gotten in a few preseason games, you never know, I could have got a look from another team and they could say 'this kid could play in the NFL.' When Rhodes came in, his staff was looking at kids out of college, so that hurt me a bit.

AS: Are you in favor of Army's new Alternative Service Option, which allows West Point athletes who sign pro contracts to serve just two years active duty?
RM: In my opinion, the route should be different. They should give anyone a shot to go try to make a pro team out of West Point. If they make it, they can serve as a recruiter in the Army, Navy, Air Force, whatever. If they don't make it, they can go into the Army. The problem is that after two years of active duty your mind and focus is not where it should be.

AS: Back to you. What's it like to still be revered by Army fans a decade later?
RM: It's pretty crazy, but it's good to know. I look back at the '96 team and we get a lot of respect. We had a blast on the field, but I would like Army to have a bowl shot this year. Maybe they will have a seven or eight-win season. It's tough to watch a team you put your heart and soul into not live up to the foundation you built. But I know the program is headed in the right direction.

AS: Do you still follow Army football closely?
RM: Yes, especially now since a lot of Army's games are on television. It's a lot easier to follow. I can watch games on television instead of reading the newspaper. It's also easier now that I've slowed down a little.

AS: You have a prediction for Army this fall?
RM: I think they will build off of last year and be a .500 team. Hopefully, they will be over .500. I haven't looked at the schedule that closely, but I'm glad they are playing at Baylor and Texas A&M. They can get a lot of recruits in Texas and need to play there. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Texas boy. There have been a lot of players coming out of Texas for years.


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