For the past four years, Patrick McDonald spent part of his spare time as a member of the Philadelphia Blue Flame, a police football team that plays other big city police and fire department squads to raise money for charities.
The former standout at Archbishop Ryan fit right in with tough cops on the team. "He was as intense as they come, hard-nosed with a desire to succeed and win every time he stepped on the field," said Mike McKay, the coach of the Blue Flame.
McDonald's high point on the team came about three years ago, when he scored an 18-yard rushing touchdown against a team of Los Angeles police officers during a game in Northeast Philadelphia. "Man, he was thrilled that day," McKay said. The coach said McDonald and his girlfriend, Joanne Heary, a police officer assigned to the 15th District in Northeast Philadelphia, often took opposing team members out to dinner after a game. "She went to every one of his games and followed us when we went to different cities," McKay said. "They were a great couple."
Joe Hansbury, a veteran cop assigned to the 8th District in the far Northeast, played alongside McDonald on the Blue Flame. "Everyone liked to be around him. We love him and we miss him. This whole thing is horrible, and it makes everyone sick to their stomach," he said. "He was always there for us."
"When you think about what these guys do everyday and the dangers they face, it's just brutal," McKay added.
McDonald will be laid to rest Tuesday at Resurrection Cemetery in Bensalem after a funeral mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul.