Blair Thomas and Quintus McDonald, former Penn State football lettermen, will be in York for the The Penn State Alumni Association – York County Chapter’s tailgate party and annual meeting on Thursday, Aug. 6. Doors open at 5 p.m., with dinner beginning at 6 p.m., at the Wyndham Garden, 2000 Loucks Road, York. Thomas and McDonald have been teammates, roommates, champions, conference rivals and now business partners. Guests will have an opportunity to meet these members of the 1986 National Championship Penn State football team, who are now hosts of Nittany Sports Huddle, which includes live broadcasts, blogs, a website and podcasts on Penn State sports. The former football greats will share their thoughts on the upcoming Nittany Lion football season and share stories from their pasts.Thomas is a native of Philadelphia and an all-state football standout at Frankford High School. In three seasons at Frankford, Blair rushed for 3,941 yards and tied a Public League career record with 59 touchdowns. In addition to being a member of the 1986 national championship football team, Thomas was a 1989 All-American and a two-year starter for the late coach Joe Paterno. Thomas finished second on the Nittany Lion’s all-time rushing list with 3,301 yards and 21 touchdowns, 97 yards shy of the Penn State record set by Curt Warner. He was also the first player in school history to rush for more than 1,400 yards in two seasons (1987 and 1989). Thomas was the most valuable player of the 1989 Holiday Bowl, setting a record with 35 carries for 186 yards. He was also the most valuable player of the Senior Bowl.
Thomas was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round (second overall) of the 1990 National Football League (NFL) draft with his playing career spanning six seasons. He suffered a series of nagging injuries beginning in 1992 and was released by the Jets following the 1993 season. Thomas began the 1994 season with the New England Patriots and finished the season with the Dallas Cowboys. Following his time in Dallas, Thomas signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He concluded his NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
McDonald was a high school sensation and three-sport star at Montclair High School in New Jersey. He was the bright spot on every All-American list and in 1984, was named USA Today Defensive Player of the year. In 1984, soon after being named USA Today Defensive Player of the year, McDonald accepted a scholarship from Penn State and was thrilled by the opportunity to play for Paterno and the Nittany Lions.
As a four-year letterman, McDonald entered the 1989 NFL draft and was taken in the sixth round by the Indianapolis Colts. During his 40-game career with the Colts, he earned numerous Defensive Player of the Game Awards with two of the most memorable coming at Giants Stadium, just minutes from the town where he had grown up. In one game, McDonald registered two sacks in a victory over then conference rivals, the New York Jets. During the second most memorable game, he registered 11 tackles in a Sunday night game versus the Kansas City Chiefs. The final tackle of the game caused the Chief’s All-Pro running back, Christian "the Nigerian Nightmare" Okoye, to fumble with time running out in the fourth quarter, enabling Indianapolis to kick the go ahead field goal.
His NFL career was plagued by injury, and in 1991 McDonald received the Ed Block Courage Award, given annually to one player from each team who demonstrated uncommon courage and resolve in returning from injury. The recipients are selected solely by a vote of their teammates.
Also during the August event, the chapter will be holding fundraising raffles to support scholarships for local Penn State students. Tickets for the raffles can be purchased at the tailgate or from any chapter board member.Tailgate tickets are $30 for chapter members and $40 for non-chapter members. For more information and registration, visit www.psustatealumni-yorkcounty.org or call 717-718-6781.