Oneonta native, two-time Super Bowl champion and Outland Award winner Mark May will return to his hometown next week for a special two-day series of fundraising events for the Oneonta YMCA.
"It will be a lot of fun," said May in a phone interview Wednesday with The Daily Star. "We have done something similar to this before. This is the first time doing it for the YMCA."
The YMCA Mark May Celebrity Golf and Concert will take place Wednesday, May 29, and Thursday, May 30, with events at the YMCA, the Sixth Ward Booster Club Field, golf tournaments in Oneonta and Cooperstown, and a concert featuring 38 Special.
May, a 1977 Oneonta High School graduate and 2007 inductee into the OHS Athletic Hall of Fame, was a couple of classes ahead of YMCA Director of Development Bob Escher, and the two have teamed up for other homecoming charity events in the past.
"Bob and Craig (Gelbsman, the concert promoter) do all the work there and I do all the recruiting of the celebrity speakers," May said.
Headlining the event with May will be former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, who was May's former partner on ESPN broadcasts. Former Syracuse basketball player Matt Roe and "voice of the Orange" Matt Park will appear. ESPN hosts John Anderson, John Buccigross, Chris Cotter and Rod Gilmore will also attend, as will May's former teammates in the NFL, Joe Jacoby, Joe Washington, Ken Huff and George Rogers, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1980.
"You can go out anywhere and meet a Heisman Trophy winner," May said in jest, "but how many chances do you get to meet an Outland Trophy winner?"
May won the Outland Trophy, given annually to college football's top interior lineman, in 1980, while playing on the offensive line at the University of Pittsburgh. His teammates included future NFL standouts Dan Marino, Jimbo Covert, Bill Maas and Hugh Green. Pitt retired May's number, 73, and he said playing with that group was one of the highlights of his career. He was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
May was drafted in the first round of the 1981 NFL draft by Washington, and had great success in his 13-year professional career, going to three Super Bowls. A member of the "Hogs" offensive line, May was named one of the greatest 70 players in Washington's history. The team beat Miami in Super Bowl XVII in 1982 and Denver in Super Bowl XXII in 1987. Washington lost the 1983 Super Bowl to the Los Angeles Raiders. May was injured in 1987, but was a team captain that season, the first in which an African-American quarterback, Doug Williams would start for a Super Bowl champion.
"I'd say athletically that was the highlight of my career," he said. "To play in three Super Bowls, to be one of the captains in the Super Bowl, and to be a captain on the team with the first black quarterback, Doug Williams, to win the Super Bowl, that is definitely something special."
In 1988, May was selected to play in the Pro Bowl. He retired from the NFL in 1993 and became a broadcaster a few years later. He said he thinks his story will help inspire another generation of local children. He said his first sports love was baseball, and his second was basketball. But he said he wasn't good enough at baseball or tall enough to play elite basketball. However, his success on the gridiron is an example he hopes the kids will take to heart.
"I will probably talk about what you can do as long as you dream big," he said. "There are a lot of ways out there to skin a cat. If you dream big, you can achieve big."
May, who was let go by ESPN a couple of years ago, as part of a mass layoff, said he has no animosity toward his ex-employer.
"I'm just really happy a lot of those guys are able to make it, because I know their schedules," he said.
May and Holtz have stayed connected and now do their own show together, on a streaming service, "The Crowd's Line." Go to www.thecrowdsline.com/ to see their work.
The YMCA meet and greet is free, but tickets are required, via email at email@example.com. It takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at 20 Ford Ave. in Oneonta.
The golf tournaments will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, May 30 at Leatherstocking Golf Course in Cooperstown and the Oneonta Country Club in Oneonta. The three-player scrambles will begin with shotgun starts at 8:30 a.m.
The concert will take place at the Sixth Ward Booster Club Field on Scramling Avenue in Oneonta on Thursday, May 30, with doors opening at 5 p.m. Jackson Michelson will open the show at 5:45 p.m., Dylan Schneider will play at 7:15 p.m. and 38 Special will go on at 8:45 p.m.
Sponsorships are available for the concert and both tournaments. Go to www.oneontaymca.org/ for more information.