When Buick asked the SB Nation college sites to write a post highlighting each school's own Human Highlight Reel alumnus, I found myself with a near-impossible task.
The job was to identify one former Syracuse athlete who "had a defining moment during his/her NCAA career that caused him/her to give back to the community in some meaningful way." To me, that can be seen in so many former Syracuse athletes. Wilmeth Sidat-Singh, who followed up a stellar football/basketball career by joining the Army and becoming one of the Tuskegee Airmen. Jim Brown, who turned his post-Syracuse success into an opportunity to mentor African-American youth across America. Ernie Davis, who had quite a defining moment at Syracuse and did more to influence others by just being himself than anyone I know of. Bernie Custis, the first African-American QB to break the color barrier in the pros. And then there's Jim Boeheim, who has used his stature to raise millions for cancer research and other charities.
In the end, I decided to go with someone from our recent past who influenced the history of Syracuse football before influencing the world around him to this day. Former Syracuse Orange QB Don MacPherson.
If there is one defining moment from the football field that we can all point to, it has to be the final moments of the 1987 West Virginia game. With an undefeated season on the line and the chance to prove his worth as a Hesiman Trophy candidate hanging in the balance, McPherson threw a touchdown pass with no time remaining, pulling the Orangemen within one point. Coach Dick MacPherson decided to trust his QB and go for the win. On the two-point conversion, McPherson executed the option run to perfection, pitching to RB Michael Owens at the last moment and watched Owns scamper in for the score, winning the game.
I can't point to a specific moment or incident that affected McPherson and influenced his future career, but clearly his experiences while at SU molded the way he saw the world and what was happening. Concerned with the way men treated women and the affects of violence against women, McPherson became a crusader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. With thousands of appearances across the country, including on the Oprah Winfrey Show and before Congress, McPherson has helped reshape the way men inside and outside of sports view the women in their lives. He's also done a ton more in community service in many areas.
McPherson continues to spread his message and work with people around the world. He's a shining example of what Syracuse graduates, be they star quarterbacks or fans in the crowd, should aspire to be.
To see the rest of the Buick Human Highlight Reel, and even share a story of your own, go to ncaa.com/buick. This post is sponsored by Buick.