2024 Montana Football HOF profile: Mark McGrath ‘ran away’ to play football

Mark McGrath Seahawks
Posted at 8:37 AM, Jun 18, 2024

BILLINGS — When the Montana Football Hall of Fame inducts its 2024 class Saturday in Billings, this new member says he actually "ran away" when he was young to play football.

It paid off. Mark McGrath turned into a hall of fame receiver from Montana State.

McGrath grew up in Seattle before moving to to Naples, Italy, his freshman year. He said he realized in a hurry that soccer was the sport there and that American football didn’t exist in Italy. So, McGrath says he ran away at age 15 back to Seattle passionate to play high school football.

As a junior at Shorecrest High School, he was catching passes from a guy named Marc Wilson who went on to play 10 years in the NFL. When a barrage of scouts showed up to watch Wilson, they also took note of McGrath, who was catching the bulk of his passes.

He played well enough in high school to earn a scholarship to Montana State in 1976, lettering his freshman year while returning punts and kicks. As fate would have it, 1976 was a national championship season for the Bobcats. McGrath played his final three years at receiver and return specialist.

Amazingly enough, McGrath’s hometown Seattle Seahawks picked him up as a free agent where he recalls earning $30,000 his rookie season.

A couple years later, the Seahawks let him go before he signed with the then-Washington Redskins who — again, as fate would have it — won Super Bowl XVII, McGrath's first season with the team.

Ultimately, he only scored one NFL touchdown, but it was delivered on a pass from College Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Theismann. McGrath admitted he didn’t keep the ball for his trophy case, telling reporters afterward he "didn't want the scouts who may be watching to know it was his first professional touchdown."

After retiring, McGrath worked in the restaurant business for 13 years and has since been in medical sales for the last 28.

The former Bobcat says he owes his NFL career — and his Super Bowl ring — to his MSU teammates and coaches.

The Montana Football Hall of Fame ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on June 22 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.