McDonald has bigger plans than football as the Steelers TE retires at 30

He says he had a calling to open a non-profit with his wife

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – It’s often in retirement news conferences or now Zoom calls that athletes will discuss what they will miss. Rare that an athlete says some of the things Vance McDonald said as his 8 year NFL career ended on Friday.

From the funny.

“I will honestly miss holding the football and running into a human being as hard as I can possibly can because that is something that I really appreciated doing over the years,” McDonald said.  “There will be moments when I will be looking at walls and things around the farm and I’ll think, golly if that could only be a defender.  And I can have a ball in my hands and I run through them that would be great.”

“I feel like I did it enough.  That I have enough memories and enough collisions to appreciate it.  I hope my head can appreciate it as well.”

To the next step where McDonald is opening a non-profit on his farm, called Hidden Meadow Farm & Retreat. The Texas native said the coronavirus pandemic really stirred up his emotions and his call to do this and do it now.

“How amazing is it to have COVID introduced to our world,” McDonald said.  “To be able to provide a place of sanctuary and solitude for people we can bring in.  To say, a breath of fresh air.  A lot of us don’t know what that feels like because we have to wear masks all the time.  To be able to create a place that provides rest for those leaders and those individuals.  That’s what COVID did for me.”

“I wake up and I look out and I see the farm.  I see all the potential that we can do and all the people we can serve.  It’s confirmation every single day.  It’s definitely helped make the decision easier.”

McDonald will always live on for a stiff arm against Tampa Bay’s Chris Conte that ended in a 75-yard touchdown.  The 30- year-old finished with 117 receptions for 1,170 yards and 8 touchdowns with the Steelers.  As for how he wants to be remembered.

“I always wanted to be a good soldier,” McDonald said.  “I wanted to do my job the best I possibly could.  Say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ and just handle my own business.  I expressed that to them.  I hope that they could look back and appreciate that about me.”

To his love for God, and the Steelers.

“We fell in love with this place,” McDonald said.  “I fell in love with being a Steeler.  I fell in love with Pittsburgh.  Fell in love with the city.  I fell in love with all of the people.  Not only planting our home, but starting a ministry here.  I truly believe God had his hand on us the entire time.”

“I’m going to very much miss the opportunity of being a disciple of Jesus in front of my entire team.  In front of the organization and staff and just trying to show up every day and be polite and trustworthy, and honest and loving.  Just try to serve those guys as best I possibly can.  I will miss probably that the most.”