Former UCLA Quarterback Cade McNown to Be Inducted into College Football Hall of Fame
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Cade McNown will join elite company in December when he becomes only the fourth quarterback in UCLA history to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining 1967 Heisman Trophy winner Gary Beban, 1976 Rose Bowl MVP John Sciarra and three-time Super Bowl champion Troy Aikman. McNown was a four-year starter at UCLA and led the Bruins on a 20-game winning streak—the longest in school history—and is the only Bruins quarterback to go 4-0 against crosstown rival USC. He was the Cotton Bowl MVP as a junior and threw for over 500 yards in the 1999 Rose Bowl, his last game in a UCLA uniform. McNown led the Bruins to the 1997 and 1998 Pac-10 championships, finished his career as the conference’s career leader in total offense (11,285 yards) and was also third in career passing yardage (10,708 yards) while posting a 30-14 career record as a starter. He finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a junior after leading the nation in passing efficiency and as a senior guided UCLA to the No. 1 ranking in the first-ever Bowl Championship Series (BCS) poll. He won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and still holds the UCLA career mark for most passing yards in a game (513 versus Miami in 1998). He was picked 12th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1999 NFL Draft but suffered a shoulder injury in 2000 that cut his career short. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins, then traded to the San Francisco 49ers, who released him in 2003. McNown entered the financial sector after retiring from football and now enjoys life in the Huntington Palisades with his wife Christina (daughter of actor/dancer John Brascia and actress/model Sondra Scott) and their four children. In this interview with the Palisadian-Post he talks about college, his future plans, being a Palisadian and what his latest honor means to him:
PP: When and how did you get the news you were being inducted? What was your initial reaction? Were you surprised or did you expect it?
CM: I received the news via mail delivery. The package included a letter and a football with my name on it. I was completely blown away by the surprise. I had been lucky enough to be included on the ballot in years past and this year the announcement was supposed to have been back in January so I had just assumed I was not going to be included in the 2020 class. However, much to my surprise, I had indeed been accepted. I was elated and humbled in the same moment.
PP: How does this honor compare to making the UCLA or Rose Bowl Halls of Fame?
CM: To be included in the College Football Hall of Fame is an incredible honor. I view that honor as recognition of a wonderful college football career that was made possible by incredible teammates and coaches who shared my love for the game. I felt and still feel the same way about the UCLA Sports Hall of Fame and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
PP: What about the 2020 Class? Do you know any of your fellow inductees? Did you play against any of them?
CM: I don’t know any of them personally but do know every one of them by reputation. It is a tremendous class with which I’m honored to be inducted.
PP: What is your proudest accomplishment at UCLA? Was it the 20-game winning streak? Going 4-0 against USC? Winning the Cotton Bowl MVP?
CM: I’m very proud of all of those things, but I’m probably most proud of the fact that our teams consistently improved each and every year.
PP: How long have you lived in the Palisades? Why did you decided to move here?
CM: We moved to Pacific Palisades almost three years ago after living in Lake Oswego (Oregon), Beverly Hills and other areas around West Los Angeles. The Palisades seemed like a wonderful place to live and raise our children and it’s been even better than we expected. We got very lucky and were able to find a home in the Huntington that suits our family perfectly. All four of our kids attend Corpus Christi School. Johnny (12) is in sixth grade, Mary (8) is in second grade, Ella (7) is in first grade and George (5) is in TK. All four of them play sports at the Palisades Recreation Center and the Palisades-Malibu YMCA.
PP: What was it like being recruited out of high school by Coach Terry Donahue?
CM: Coach Donahue is a very dear friend and mentor to me. To this day, I have the utmost love and respect for him and his family. I have been fortunate enough to meet many of the UCLA football players in the Hall of Fame, including Donn Moomaw, Gary Beban, Kenny Easley, Jerry Robinson, Randy Cross, John Sciarra and Jonathan Ogden (with whom I was lucky enough to play).
PP: What has life after football been like? Where do you work now? What charities or organizations have you been involved with over the years?
CM: I’m very blessed. I get to work with a great company in the investment business called Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, LP. I’m involved with several charitable organizations including the Rose Bowl Legacy Foundation, Young Life Foundation, Friends of Golf (FOG), and Boy Scouts of America. I try to attend all of the UCLA football home games at the Rose Bowl and even attend a couple of away games every year.
PP: How optimistic are you about the program under Chip Kelly? How is his coaching style different than Terry Donahue or Bob Toledo?
CM: Yes, I’m very optimistic about the UCLA football program under Chip Kelly. This will be a make-or-break season for Coach Kelly and I’m excited to watch UCLA reestablish itself as a top team in the PAC-12 Conference and very soon a top contender at the national level.
PP: How frustrating was it having your NFL career cut short by injury?
CM: Although it was extremely disappointing to end my NFL career due to an injury, I feel very fortunate to have been able to start a new career at a young age. As you get older, it becomes harder to start a new career.
PP: What advice can you give to youngsters who aspire to play football? Would you encourage them to play other sports?
CM: Football is the greatest game I ever played. That said, I’d only encourage a child to play football if they want to hit! If they are afraid of hitting they shouldn’t play. For me, I was ready to hit in the fifth grade. Others might not be ready until high school. Regardless, they should include as many sports in their life as possible. Growing up, I played every sport I could. I’m a big believer in being a well-rounded athlete.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.