Bubba McDowell Enjoyed Solid 7-Year NFL Career

By  //  April 30, 2013

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SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME

ABOVE VIDEO: Following seven stellar years with the Houston Oilers and Carolina Panthers, Bubba McDowell ended his professional career with 17 interceptions.

BUBBA McDOWELL – 2013 INDUCTEE

Bubba McDowell

Bubba McDowell

• Second Team All Pro Selection

• Selected To All Rookie Team

• National Champion At Miami

MERRITT ISLAND MUSTANG

Bubba McDowell never dreamed growing up on Merritt Island that he would be part of a football game that is widely regarded as the greatest comeback in NFL history or someday enshrined in the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.

Bubba McDowell learned to block punts and kicks while playing high school football for legendary Merritt Island coach Gerald Odom. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports)

Bubba McDowell learned to block punts and kicks while playing high school football for legendary Merritt Island coach Gerald Odom. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com Sports)

He learned to block punts and kicks while playing high school football for legendary Merritt Island coach Gerald Odom, and it was that special skill that would serve him throughout his career in both college and as professional player.

Many colleges wanted to award McDowell a scholarship following his graduation, but he held one offer in high regard. That came from the University of Miami Hurricanes. He couldn’t pass up the chance to play for a national championship contender and its coach, Jimmy Johnson.

NATIONAL CHAMPION

Playing in the Hurricanes final game of the regular season in 1985 at the Orange Bowl against Notre Dame, McDowell blocked his first collegiate kick as a freshman.

His first start at cornerback came as a junior in 1987 against Maryland and held special meaning for him. McDowell had learned that one of his former Merritt Island friends and teammates, Steve Hamilton, had died of cancer days before.

Miami defeated the Fighting Irish 58-7 that day and went on to meet Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl. McDowell’s blocked kick against Notre Dame was the first of nine blocks he racked up in four seasons as a Hurricane.

His first start at cornerback came as a junior in 1987 against Maryland and held special meaning for him. McDowell had learned that one of his former Merritt Island friends and teammates, Steve Hamilton, had died of cancer days before.

He dedicated that game to Hamilton and went out and played an inspired game. His ferocious pressure on the Maryland punter led to 17 first half point for Miami and the Hurricanes went on to win 46-16. Later that season the Hurricanes captured the national championship by knocking off Oklahoma 20-14 in the Orange Bowl.

COURAGE AWARD

In the spring of 1989, Bubba was drafted by the Houston Oilers and earned a starting job through his steady play during training camp. By the end of the season, McDowell had recorded four interceptions and drew rave reviews for his leadership and tenacity. For his play that year, he was honored with NFL First Team All-Rookie status from Pro Football Weekly and Football News publications.

In 1991, Bubba McDowell won the “Ed Block Memorial Courage Award” for the Oilers, signifying “a player’s courage in the pursuit of professional excellence.” After the season, both the Associated Press and Pro Football Newsweekly named Bubba as a Second Team All-Pro selection.

In 1991, Bubba McDowell won the “Ed Block Memorial Courage Award” for the Oilers, signifying “a player’s courage in the pursuit of professional excellence.” After the season, both the Associated Press and Pro Football Newsweekly named Bubba as a Second Team All-Pro selection.

In 1991, he won the “Ed Block Memorial Courage Award” for the Oilers, signifying “a player’s courage in the pursuit of professional excellence.” After the season, both the Associated Press and Pro Football Newsweekly named Bubba as a Second Team All-Pro selection.

As one of only four NFL defensive players to start all 16 games of the 1992 season, McDowell finished first for Houston defensive backs with 91 tackles, was tied for first in fumble recoveries with three and tied for second in team interceptions with four.

Then in January 1993, McDowell played for the Oilers in a playoff game against the Buffalo Bills that many NFL historians rate as one of the most remarkable turnarounds of all-time.

Following six years with the Oilers, Bubba McDowell played in 1995 for the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural season. (NFL file photo from the JC Ridley Archive)

Following six years with the Oilers, Bubba McDowell played in 1995 for the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural season. (NFL file photo from the JC Ridley Archive)

Early in the third quarter, McDowell intercepted a Frank Reich pass and ran it back 58 yards for a Houston touchdown. His score gave the Oilers a whopping 35-3 lead at the time. But under Reich, the Bills staged an unbelievable comeback and defeated Houston 41-38 in overtime. It was the largest deficit any team has ever overcome to win a game in the history of the NFL playoffs.

Following six years with the Oilers, Bubba played in 1995 for the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural season. He ended his professional career with 17 interceptions and one touchdown, which came on a fumble recovery in 1991 against the Denver Broncos.

COACH McDOWELL

Bubba McDowell and his wife, Candace, reside in Missouri City, Texas along with their sons, Trey and Myles.

Bubba McDowell and his wife, Candace, reside in Missouri City, Texas along with their sons, Trey and Myles.

From 2003 to 2006 he coached defensive backs for Texas Southern University and in 2007 was safeties coach at the University of Houston.

McDowell then spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator for Willowridge High School in Houston. He is now in his third year as the safeties coach for the football team at Prairie View University in Texas.

Bubba and his wife, Candace, reside in Missouri City, Texas along with their sons, Trey and Myles.

THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 10 with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. – and dinner and ceremony at 7 p.m.

FOR INFORMATION & TICKETS to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction dinner call 321-615-8111 or e-mail MaverickMultimedia@gmail.com

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL THE 2013 INDUCTEES


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