Football star Don McPherson speaks in Concordia today

September 15, 2015 by

Don McPherson

Don McPherson

As the quarterback at Syracuse University, Don McPherson was known for his leadership on the football field. For his team, it meant an undefeated season. For the quarterback, it meant unanimous first-round All-American honors, several years in the NFL and Canadian Football League and election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Now McPherson brings that leadership to an entirely different field. He travels across the country using the power and appeal of sports to address men’s violence against women.

Today — Sept. 15 — he will bring his message to Concordia. High school students from around the region have been invited to an afternoon presentation at Concordia High School. That session begins at 1 p.m.

At 7 this evening, the public is invited to McPherson’s second presentation, at Cook Theatre on the Cloud County Community College campus. Admission to both events is free.

His appearances in Concordia are sponsored by the Year of Peace Committee with funding from the Dane G. Hansen Fund, the Community Foundation for Cloud County, Cloud County Community College Student Services, Cloud County Community College Residential Life and the Cloud County Chemical Dependency Committee.

As captain of the undefeated 1987 Syracuse football team, McPherson set 22 school records, led the nation in passing and won more than 18 national “player of the year” awards, including the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the inaugural Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

He was second in the Heisman Trophy voting, and was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles to play in the NFL. He was traded to the Houston Oilers, and then played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League.

In 2008 McPherson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, in a class that includes other football greats such as Troy Aikman, Jay Novacek and Thurman Thomas. In 2013 Syracuse University retired his No. 9 jersey — only the fourth number to be retired in the history of Syracuse’s storied football program.

After retiring from pro football in 1994, McPherson joined Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society as national director of Athletes in Service to America. Then he turned his focus to the issue of men’s violence against women, as director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program.

In the last two decades, the New York native has emerged as a national leader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. He has conducted workshops and lectures for more than 250 college campuses, community organizations and national sports and violence prevention organizations.

“Men do not just need to stop being violent,” McPherson wrote in a special column for CNN.com in 2013. “The vast majority of men are not violent. But men do need to stop being silent. Calling violence against women, whether street harassment or sexual harassment or rape or murder, a ‘women’s issue’ allows men to ignore it as if we have no responsibility for it or stake in ending it. … Our lives are inextricably interwoven; women’s issues of safety and equality directly affect our lives as men.”

He has twice testified before the United States Congress and has worked closely with the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense on issues of sexual violence in education and the military, respectively.

He also created and hosted “Training for Life” on MSG Varsity, a life skills TV show that examined social issues and sports. In 2012, Training for Life’s episode on “Sports Parenting” was nominated for an Emmy Award.

McPherson has received several honors in recognition of his work, and has served as a board member, consultant and advisor for several national organizations, including the Ms Foundation for Women and the National Football Foundation and the US National Committee for UN Women.

 

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