A Closer Look: Vance McDonald
Position: Tight End
Experience: 6th Season
Twitter Handle: @VMcDonald89
Who is your football mentor or inspiration?
David Sloan. I had a chance to go back and watch film on him eventually. He came into my career at a pivotal point in college and starting talking to me about having a career in the NFL. That was something I hadn’t even thought about. He brought a lot of years of experience into the classroom.
What motivates you?
Being able to use my success in the NFL, being in the spotlight, and being able to use it to approach people humbly and lead them to Jesus.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
I would say injuries. I guess it’s the way I play the game. You can watch film and see how some guys tiptoe around that max speed. I just slam it all the way down. I am full speed doing everything I do. It’s led to injuries. Each one can wear you down. Overcoming them and getting back, and continuing to develop.
How did you overcome it?
With a lot of support. As NFL players a big part of your baggage is being a super critical of yourself. When you have an injury, it’s a downward spiral. It can easily turn dark and lonely. Just having family, friends and teammates come along and tell you don’t let it hold you back, you will bounce back. If you didn’t have that, it would be twice as hard.
What scares you?
Losing vision or purpose. You can get caught up in the day-to-day kind of grind if you let it become that monotonous routine. It’s difficult to master and you can never perfect it, but approaching each day, taking a small amount of time in the morning before you walk through the door, saying I am going to get something out of this day. You lose purpose, drive and motivation, then you become lost.
When did you start to dream about playing in the NFL?
Halfway through my senior year in college when I thought it was a reality. I always had small stepping stones, coming from a small hometown, a small high school, injuries in high school, one offer to a college, smaller college, not a lot of success coming out of Rice in terms of the NFL. It’s not your typical story of a big D-1 recruit. It doesn’t come down to anything I did, it was people coming to me saying I think you’ve got this. You can play in the NFL. Having that support system has been helpful.
Why do you play football?
It’s something that has always come natural to me. It’s such a big opportunity to give back to people whether it’s motivation, to kind of help them put a vision together for a vision they have, or to hear a different testimony or story. All the blessings and support that I have been given. My small hometown of 3,000 people, it’s crazy how much I hear from them. Just to give back to people.
When you hear the Steelers football, what do you think?
Hardworking. It’s one of those things you hear about when you are on other teams. You get here and you sort of forget all of the cliché things you hear about the Steelers. When you first get here you kind of forget about them because you are trying to observe, get settled, meet people, and learn personalities. It’s a ton of stuff. Then you look back on it and you say it’s no wonder people say the Steelers are champions, that they are hardworking. This fortified wall of when they were great on defense, the great quarterbacks, the Hall of Fame guys. You get here and you realize there is a reason everyone is so good. It’s the accountability and work ethic everyone has. It’s unbelievable.