Locally and at a distance, current SU athletes followed Donovan McNabb's career both at SU and as a professional.
The former SU quarterback was honored at halftime on Saturday, as his jersey was hung up in the Carrier Dome rafters. While more than 35,000 fans cheered as McNabb acknowledged the crowd at halftime, some of his biggest fans were in the Orange locker room, preparing for the second half.
SU center and senior captain Macky MacPherson's grandfather Dick MacPherson coached before McNabb's time in the 1980's, but that connection gave Macky the opportunity to see McNabb's greatness up close.
"I remember going to practice as a kid," Macky MacPherson says. "He [McNabb] would always pull us off to the side, my brother and I, and play catch and stuff, I don't know if he remembers or not, but I do, one of those childhood memories you never forget, I'm forever grateful for those things he did for me and my grandfather."
Macky attended Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, so he was able to see McNabb's entire career with the Orange. MacPherson's teammate both at SU and at CBA, SU sophomore punter Riley Dixon, was a little younger, so he remembers McNabb more as a Philadelphia Eagle, where McNabb spent 11 seasons.
"I saw Donovan McNabb play and thought wow this guy's is amazing," Dixon says."He can really do a lot...he's a very versatile quarterback, and he has fun during the game. Ever since then I was an Eagles fan."
On the field, McNabb's greatest influence may be on current SU quarterback Terrel Hunt, who says McNabb was one of the quarterbacks he idolized growing up and someone he wanted to model himself after and achieve the same kind of success.
"I wanted to be able to run like Michael Vick, to have command and total control like [McNabb]...and as for Tom Brady just mechanics...he's a perfect mechanic guy so I wanted to be all three," Hunt, a sophomore, says.
At this point, Hunt looks like he's next in a line of quarterbacks that includes greats like Don MacPherson and McNabb himself, who believes Hunt will continue to keep the torch going.
As for McNabb's lasting legacy, he now has a jersey in the rafters to go along with his countless awards and accomplishments with the Orange. With that in mind, he still has fans both in the seats, and on the field.
"There was electricity in the air whenever he had the ball, he could make anything happen with his arm or his legs," MacPherson says. "That's why he's a first rounder and he played in the NFL for forever, and I think everyone at Syracuse is proud to say that they're affiliated with Donovan McNabb."