Former Baltimore Colt Don McCauley (1971-81) was the true definition of versatility at the running back position. In his 11 seasons with the Colts, McCauley's 333 receptions place sixth all-time in Colts' history and he accumulated 58 touchdowns – placing him third-all time in Colts' history for touchdowns by a running back, behind only Lenny Moore and Edgerrin James.
McCauley was one of the team's two first-round picks in 1971, a time period in the franchise's history when legendary quarterback John Unitas was entering his final two seasons with the team. McCauley was the team's overall top selection that year as a result of a trade the team had completed with the Miami Dolphins the previous year, allowing head coach Don Shula to terminate his contract with Baltimore to join the Dolphins.
The running back out of the University of North Carolina was the 22nd pick overall had an immediate impact, rushing for 246 yards and two touchdowns during his rookie season.
"Growing up in New York and going to school in North Carolina, Baltimore – who had just won the Super Bowl – was a perfect fit for me, I stayed on the east coast and was going to a winner…I was delighted," McCauley told ColtPower.
The team won 10 games and lost just 4 that season and made their way into the AFC Championship game, but ironically lost to Don Shula's Miami Dolphins by a score of 21-0.
The next few years would be some of the most unbalanced and unusual in Colts history, as the team jettisoned some aging veterans and watched as others retired. Despite six different coaches and seven losing seasons during a tumultuous era in Colts history, McCauley never left the team.
"I'm glad I did stay there; I sort of saw three different waves of players come through during my career. I always considered myself a good management person and I always appreciated the sport that I was so lucky to be playing and the city of Baltimore that I absolutely loved," he said. "If I had to look back and say, ‘should I have forced a trade somewhere along the line' I would say no, because I thought that much of the fans and the Colts."
McCauley eventually got to enjoy some good years again, making three more playoff appearances after the team named Ted Marchibroda as their head coach and infused more talent during the Bert Jones era. The team used him as a valuable weapon on third-downs and short-yardage situations since he could get the tough yards on the ground or swing out of the backfield for a quick pass to move the chains.
McCauley spent his entire 11-year career as a Colt – only a dozen have ever served for 12 years or more in a Colts' uniform. He is one of only nine Colts who have scored 10 or more touchdowns in at least two seasons (1975-76).
Although he never played in Indianapolis and was distraught by the team's move three years following his retirement, McCauley remains a big Colts fan and also keeps tabs on the Ravens.
"I follow the Ravens because they are in Baltimore and I love that city and the Colts because of Jimmy Irsay. I remember playing for his dad and I respected him giving me the opportunity to play and signing that check," he said. "I'm so proud of what he has done in Indianapolis and the success of the team. I love watching the Colts, they are 5-0 and I hope they can keep this up again this week against Washington."
Following his NFL career, McCauley was the owner of several New York restaurants and worked for a business school prior to landing his current job at his alma mater – The University of North Carolina. McCauley currently works for the Rams Club, the university's athletic fundraising organization.
"It's great coming back to the school that I love so much. I always wanted to come back and give back," he said.
McCauley has been married for 31 years and has three daughters; the oldest is currently engaged and enrolled in an MBA program at Columbia University.
"I love this time of year, watching college and professional football and baseball – life is good," McCauley said.
ColtPower Insiders can read our exclusive Q&A with Don McCauley on Wednesday where he talks about his career, teammates Bubba Smith and Mike Curtis, the odd situation when the team's general manager assumed the head coach position during the season, the arrival of head coach Ted Marchibroda, one of his funniest moments as a Colt, and more!
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