“It’s an honor that this has been bestowed upon me for the second year because this is a position that guys really take seriously,” said McDonald. “We love our military and we want to show support to those who give their time, their efforts and their lives to protect us and our country. To know that Tampa is such a strong military community with MacDill Air Force Base, it means a lot to me because I grew up in a military-base community. With our servicemen and servicewomen here, you can really see the collective effort to make this a better community.”
Since joining the Buccaneers in 2014, McDonald has embraced the Tampa Bay community and displayed outstanding character through his dedication to positively impacting the Bay Area. With a deep family history of military service, including his grandfather who served in the Korean War; his father, a former Air Force engineer and Vietnam War veteran; his uncle, also a Vietnam veteran; and his brother, recently medically discharged from the Air Force, it is no surprise that a passion for supporting military families is at the heart of McDonald’s community outreach.
McDonald, a proud USAA member, was selected as a 2017 NFL spokesperson in the “USAA Member Voices” commercial campaign, as he believes USAA shares the same qualities he stands for: loyalty, honor, and respect. Being raised in a military household, the same core principles are instilled in his family. For the past two years, McDonald has served as an honorary guest speaker at the Buccaneers General H Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards at One Buccaneer Place. The event honors the families of active duty military members from each branch of service and recognizes their integrity, courage, commitment, and service before self.
When an opportunity is presented to support the military, McDonald is the first to step up. In 2016, the City of Orlando hosted the Invictus Games – an international sporting event for active duty and veteran servicemen and servicewomen who have been injured or wounded. Prior to the kickoff of the Games, McDonald spent time visiting with Team USA, thanking each member for their sacrifices and sharing that their resilience and dedication inspire him.
McDonald continually finds ways to thank those who serve, as was evidenced by his effort to spend extra time with families at the Buccaneers’ annual Military Appreciation Day at training camp. Following practice, McDonald, along with teammates and USAA, hosted the USAA’s NFL Boot Camp where 30 active duty military competed in NFL Combine drills on the Buccaneers practice fields.
For the past two years, McDonald has helped organize initiatives to assist homeless veterans in Hillsborough County. The defensive tackle is currently working to provide veterans with much-needed clothing by leading an organization-wide collection drive, and last year, he participated in a clothing drive and purchased meals for homeless veterans leading up to Veterans’ Day. The efforts were in conjunction with Operation Reveille, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of military veterans who, despite demonstrated efforts, have struggled to find housing, jobs, health services, transportation and other basic needs.
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military community. Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor and support members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service. The league's year-round military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring veterans, active duty service members and their families.
Finalists for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII, from 8-10 PM (ET and PT) on NBC.