Leon McQuay is a name that’s been associated with critical football plays in big moments, and now for good as well as ill.
Leon McQuay III is a senior defensive back for the USC Trojans, and one who played a crucial role in their 52-49 Rose Bowl win over Penn State Monday. His grandfather, the first Leon McQuay, was a running back who had a solid college career with the since-disbanded Tampa Spartans, and then went on to an impressive CFL and NFL career. However, the elder McQuay may be most remembered for the ill-fated “Argo Bounce,” where he slipped on a wet field late in the 1971 Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League championship) and fumbled the football following a handoff from Joe Theismann, allowing the Calgary Stampeders to recover from an almost-certain loss and beat McQuay’s “Greatest Team That Never Won” Toronto Argonauts:
McQuay III almost wound up being a big-game goat in his own right Monday, as with less than a minute left and the score tied at 49, an almost-sure interception fell through his hands. However, as he told the Los Angeles Times‘ David Wharton afterwards, he made sure to have a “next-play mentality.” That paid off; McQuay got another chance on the next play and came up with a crucial pick along the sidelines, which he then returned 33 yards to set up Matt Boormeester’s game-winning field goal. Here’s McQuay’s pick:
That’s quite the play from him, and an impressive finish to a great career. Sadly, his grandfather wasn’t around to see it; the senior McQuay died of a heart attack in 45. He should be remembered for his great talent, and for all the success he did have in both the CFL and the NFL, but memories of the one play that went wrong stand out for many. Fortunately for McQuay III, his mistake will be remembered very differently. It definitely helps when you have a chance to make it up on the next play.