Clinton McDonald’s Long Road to NFL Culminates with Trip to Super Bowl


Aug 28, 2010; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97), defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (69) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (90) in action against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

You may remember Clinton McDonald.

The starting Seahawks defensive tackle was once a Bengals rookie in 2009 on the practice squad after being a seventh-round draft pick.

But that didn’t stop him from showing up at Paul Brown Stadium to greet the bus back from each road trip he didn’t make, according to Geoff Hobson of

"“I felt like I was part of the victory or a loss,” McDonald said. “Either I did something during the week to do enough to aid in the win, or I didn’t do enough and we lost. I took that upon myself to show my support. I might just be on the practice squad, I might not be playing on Sunday, but I’m part of the team.”"

McDonald has been a force in the interior of the Hawks’ defensive line with 5.5 sacks – third on the team – along with 35 tackles and an interception.

If not for Geno Atkins coming in and becoming an All-Pro for the Bengals, McDonald may still be in stripes right now.

But in 2011, the Bengals were in desperate need of a cornerback, and McDonald was traded for Kelly Jennings, a former first-round CB:

"Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hated to do it. He saw McDonald waiting in the locker room on those returns. The ultimate team player. But the move also made sense.“If he is what we expect, he has a chance to play 500-600 snaps, if not more,” Lewis said when it happened. “It gives us more depth at a vital, vital spot in the NFL. It’s a point where a guy (McDonald) may or may not have been on the (game day active list) to a guy (Jennings) that probably will be.”"

As it turned out, Jennings did sparingly see the field for the Bengals that year, while McDonald played in 15 games, with one start, the first of his career, against the Washington Redskins in late November.

He played in 14 games in 2012 as a backup with 25 tackles, but still opened the 2013 season not on an NFL roster.

Once again, McDonald was faced with the reality of not getting to play football again, but faith and perseverance helped him never give up on his dreams.

On September 14, 2013, He was re-signed with the team on a one-year contract for $630,000, and has since become a valuable member on the best defense in the NFL.

The 298-pounder’s ability to collapse the pocket on third downs will play a crucial role in Seattle’s bid to shutdown Peyton Manning and the prolific Denver Broncos offense.

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