In the late 1980's and 1990's, Devon McDonald experienced the ultimate success Indiana football had to offer.
In 1989 he was a member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish championship team – the last Irish team to earn that honor. In 1995 he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts team that was one play away from going to the Super Bowl.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, McDonald's family moved to the United States before he was a teenager, in search of opportunity.
"Why...five letters — m-o-n-e-y. I was like most people coming to America, looking for more opportunity. In Jamaica the job prospects were very limited — policeman, doctor, lawyer, nurse," McDonald said. "In sports, unless you're a mega-mega star, you aren't going to make a living. In America, there is just so much more of a chance to be a success."
Recruited by Lou Holtz, McDonald joined the Fighting Irish and became a defensive terror at linebacker, helping the team earn their 1989 championship and nearly another in 1993 – as he was Cotton Bowl MVP that year.
Drafted by the Colts following his senior season at Notre Dame in 1993, McDonald's pass-rushing style fit in well with a stout Colts defense that included the likes of Quentin Coryatt, Tony Siragusa and Jeff Herrod.
When McDonald wasn't starting at linebacker – which he estimates he did for roughly a dozen games during his three seasons (93-95) as a Colt -- he was making a serious impact on special teams.
"I was runner up in 1993 for the special teams award and then I won it in 1994. Then, for the Colts, I also got an unsung hero of the year — they asked the fans of the Colts who they thought was the best player on the football team that doesn't get the recognition," he said. "When I got that award, I thought, "that's amazing." I was out there doing my work, but obviously people watched and noticed, it was tremendous."
Following the 1995 season, McDonald was cut by the Colts. He went on to play for the Arizona Cardinals in 1996 and later played two seasons in the Arena Football League with the Tampa Bay Storm.
Today, he and 11 other ex-NFL players work for Sports World, in Indianapolis, which is best described by the organization's mission statement, which is to, "send former professional athletes to share personal life experiences with students, helping them to recognize the consequences of their choices while challenging them with the message of hope."
McDonald and his co-workers believe in using their status as former professional athletes to earn the attention of today's youth – a feat that isn't always easy.
"If you hear that a minister is going to be at a place and you aren't a churchgoer, you might not go," McDonald said. "But if you hear about a football player who is a minister, they will come, not because you are a minister, because you are a football player."
McDonald is happily married to his wife, Shereasher, who currently serves as Sports World's interim president. They have two children, Jazzmine (11) and Rachel (6). McDonald hopes to eventually step in for Shereasher as the company's president.
"Right now, my wife is interim president. So, the goal is for me to step into that role," he said. "And then, I'd like to get to a place where we have 25 guys like myself; where we have young guys who have played in the NFL a couple years, that are really recognizable so we have even bigger names that people might cling to and want to hear them speak."
Visit www.sportsworld.org for more information about the good work McDonald and the staff at Sports World, Inc. are doing with young people.
And check back on Thursday for our Colts Alumni Q&A as McDonald talks about his experiences as a top player with the national champion Fighting Irish, being drafted by the Colts and as a member of the 1995 Colts' team. It's a ColtPower Insiders exclusive you won't want to miss!
ColtPower thanks Al Soultz, one of the dedicated moderators in our
great ColtPower Fan Forum for helping us connect with Devon McDonald for this
interview feature and to the Indianapolis Colts for providing photos of Devon McDonald.