McLendon looking forward to returning to Troy
Published 12:51 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023
It’s been several years since former Troy Trojan Steve McLendon has been back at his alma mater but this Saturday he’ll be back to take part in the Lunch with Legends event ahead of T-Day.
The Ozark native said while he hasn’t had the chance to be back at Troy in some time, that’s caused a bit of excitement to swell in him ahead of his return.
“I think it’s a great opportunity and a great honor, not just for myself but for the kids I’ll be able to bring back and let them see where I come from an the school I played at,” McLendon said. “I’m a bit excited, honestly, because it’s been awhile since I’ve been back to Troy. So, to see the guys and the men and women at Troy is going to be great and I’m excited about it.”
McLendon was a 6-foot-3-inch, 290-pound high school football star at Carroll High before coming to Troy in 2005. During his Trojan career, McLendon tallied 56 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. In 2008, he earned All-Sun Belt honors with 25 tackles, five sacks, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery that he returned 67 yards. McLendon was a part of three Sun Belt Championships during his career.
“My junior and senior year is probably my favorite time,” McLendon recalled. “Being able to compete alongside all those guys and being able to play in bowl games and looking around and seeing all of those guys as my brothers, that meant so much to me.”
After an All-Conference career at Troy, McLendon was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent. After spending his rookie season primarily as a practice squad player, McLendon earned his first opportunities to play in 2010. He played in a total of seven games that season and earned a fumble recovery for the first time in his NFL career.
In 2011, McLendon became a stalwart on the Pittsburgh defensive line, playing in 14 games and earning his first career start. Following that season, he played in all 16 games for Pittsburgh in 2012 and then became a starting nose tackle for the Steelers in 2013 through the end of his Pittsburgh career in 2016. He earned his first chance to compete in the Super Bowl in 2011, which the Steelers lost to Green Bay Packers.
In 2016, McLendon signed with the New York Jets and had a career year with 28 tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.5 sacks. The following season, McLendon started 14 games and earned 46 tackles, 8.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks.
During the 2020 season, McLendon was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he would help the Buccaneers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. McLendon registered one tackle and one quarterback hit in the Super Bowl. He wrapped up his NFL career in the 2021 and went out in style, becoming the second-oldest player in NFL history to record their first career interception.
McLendon went from an undrafted player in 2009 to a defensive lineman that played in 165 career games over 13 seasons with 90 starts, 276 tackles, 57 tackles-for-loss, 13 sacks, 33 quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, one interception, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl ring.
“For me, it’s always a great opportunity and a great honor to get to talk about my career and it’s something I do not take lightly,” McLendon said. “I’m very passionate about the game and what I’ve been able to accomplish throughout my career and being able to give back is something I’m passionate about, too.
“That’s always been my No. 1 thing, giving back to those that come after me. To be able to share my path so those others can see that path and understand the path that I took, so that they can get to where they desire to be. It’s a great opportunity because I get to try and uplift others.”
McLendon now owns and operates Team MVP Gym in Flowery Branch, Ga., a training facility that many college and professional athletes – and the general public – train at. McLendon also hosts 7-on-7 tournaments for perspective college athletes and also coaches his own 7-on-7 team for high school players looking to get to the next level.
“I’m bringing my 7-on-7 team down with me (to Troy), so that’s a great thing,” McLendon said. “I do a lot of guiding and encouraging the college guys about their Pro Day situations and pro guys through their pro careers and understanding what’s coming and just really teaching the game.
“That’s my No. 1 thing, I’m a teacher outside of the classroom. We’re a training facility for the general population, too, but we have mostly athletes. Football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, no matter what the sport, we handle it. If you have a desire to become better we have the desire to help you do that.”
McLendon said he anticipates getting a lot of questions about his Super Bowl ring at the Lunch with Legends and he’s happy to oblige those questions. While McLendon has yet to meet Troy coach Jon Sumrall in person, he’s been impressed with what he and the coaching staff has already accomplished.
“I have not met him yet but we had a brief conversation and I look forward to meeting him,” McLendon said of Sumrall. “I think he – and all of them – have been doing a phenomenal job and the biggest thing is staying the course and staying focused and driven to continue to do what’s necessary and to continue to correct and push forward for greatness.”
McLendon will be one of five former Troy greats to take part in the Lunch with Legends panel this Saturday. Joining McLendon will be former Troy quarterback Levi Brown, kicker Ted Clem, fullback Ted Horstead and linebacker Boris Lee. Lunch with Legends takes place at 11 a.m. in the Stadium Club of Veterans Memorial Stadium. Tickets for the event are $25 and can be purchased, at https://tinyurl.com/tjmwh75j.