Former National Player of the Year Recipient and Philadelphia Eagle, Don McPherson, Set to Deliver ESU One Book One Campus Keynote Address

Posted by: Elizabeth Richardson on June 27, 2019, No Comments

In March, East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania announced “Beartown”, by Fredrik Backman, as its choice for the 2019-2020 One Book, One Campus program.

On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, ESU will welcome this year’s One Book keynote speaker, Don McPherson, to campus to discuss themes in “Beartown”. The book is about a small town with a big dream – and the price required to make it come true. The hopes and dreams of an entire town rest on the shoulders of its junior hockey team. But, being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil.  Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.  “Beartown” explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain.

McPherson has used the power and appeal of sports to address complex social justice issues for more than 30 years.

As an athlete, McPherson was a unanimous All-America quarterback at Syracuse University. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and played for the Houston Oilers in the NFL, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League. As captain of the undefeated 1987 Syracuse football team, McPherson set 22 school records, led the nation in passing and won multiple national “player of the year” awards, including the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the inaugural Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He was second in the Heisman Trophy voting. In 2008 McPherson was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2013 Syracuse University retired his #9 jersey – only the fourth number (and one of five) to be retired in the history of the University’s storied football program.

Upon retiring from pro football in 1994, he joined Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society as national director of athletes in service to America. In 2002 he founded the Sports Leadership Institute at Adelphi University, for which he served as executive director until 2007.

In 1995 McPherson turned his focus to the issue of “men’s violence against women,” as director of Sport in Society’s Mentors in Violence Prevention Program, taking over for the program’s founder, Jackson Katz. McPherson emerged as a national leader and advocate for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. He has conducted workshops and lectures for more than 250 college campuses, community organizations and national sports and violence prevention organizations. His programs and lectures have reached more than one million people.

Don McPherson has received several honors in recognition of his service, including the Frederick Douglas Men of Strength Award, given by Men Can Stop Rape; Champions for Change, presented by Lifetime Television; The Creative Vision for Women’s Justice, presented by the Pace University Women’s Justice Center; and a Leadership Award from the National Center for Victims of Crime. Most recently Don received the George Arents Award, Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor and “Letter Winner of Distinction,” the highest honor bestowed a former student-athlete.

McPherson has served as a board member, consultant and advisor for several national organizations including the Ms Foundation for Women, the US National Committee for UN Women and the National Football Foundation. He currently serves on the board of directors for the NYC Chapter of the National Football Foundation, the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University, and is a member the NCAA Task Force on Sexual Violence and the NCAA Board of Governors Commission to Combat Sexual Violence. He is also the author of forthcoming book, “You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity” (releases September 3, 2019).

McPherson will give his presentation Koehler Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $30. The first 50 people to purchase tickets will receive a free copy of “Beartown.”  To purchase tickets visit

Additional book discussions, which will be open to the public, will be announced for fall 2019. For more information about ESU’s One Book, One Campus program, to purchase the book online, or to purchase tickets for the McPherson event on November 12, visit