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New York Rangers: Steven McDonald, dead at 59, was more than a superfan

NYPD Officer Steven McDonald, who most know as the New York Rangers biggest fan, was so much more to so many individuals.

Very rarely does a man find himself in a situation like Steven McDonald had his entire life. Rarely does an individual touch the lives of so many while weaving himself into the fabric of his own beloved organization. 

While it’s true that NYPD Officer Steven McDonald meant so much to so many individuals involved in the New York Rangers organization, “Superfan” should be a tag that is never used in isolation.

McDonald represented much more.

Growing up as a Rangers fan during the 1980s and early 90s, I was quickly familiarized with McDonald. While very young, I knew he was a fearless police officer who, seemingly, always did the right thing no matter how hard the pill felt to swallow.

On July 26, 1986, McDonald was shot three times near Central Park by 15-year-old Shavod (Buddha) Jones. Despite the bleak prognosis after haven been shot in the neck, face, and wrist which left him a quadriplegic, McDonald publicly forgave Jones, via the New York Daily News.

“I forgive him, and hope that he can find peace and purpose in his life,” McDonald said on the day of son Conor’s christening.

To McDonald, his mission of spreading the love and words of god was far more important than any grudge he could have held over his shooter’s head.

Shortly after the incident, McDonald (who had already been crazed about his Rangers), became a fixture at Madison Square Garden and in and around the Big Apple. His Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award commenced during the Rangers season of 1987-88.

Excitable Jan Erixon took home the first prize. Other winners have included Mark Messier, Adam Graves, Brian Leetch, Wayne Gretzky, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Henrik Lundqvist.

Cally enjoyed the great opportunity of winning the $25,000 check made out to the Steven McDonald Foundation four times (the second most times any Rangers player has taken home the award). Graves won it five times, the most in franchise history. Mats Zuccarello is the most recent recipient, winning it two of the last three campaigns.

Fans, players and even broadcasters alike considered the award the second most important aspect to the Rangers season after their place in the standings and finish in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Once his death was reported, the outpouring of love began:

McDonald passed away on Jan. 10, 2017 at the age of 59 after suffering a massive heart attack a few days prior.

Rest in peace, Steven McDonald. You will be missed

Fortunately, for us, we also know when your New York Rangers return to action at MSG when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs this coming Friday, you will be watching from above while pacing the room full of nervous energy.


Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com