Mark Murphy

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Professional Football Player

While athletic accomplishments alone are frequently a ticket to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame, Clarence’s Mark Murphy is among those rare athletes whose contributions to sport and community have continued long after the cheering stopped.

A three-sport star in high school (baseball, football, and basketball), Murphy capped an outstanding career at Clarence Central High with recognition as the Best All-Around Athlete in Western New York for 1977 by the Courier-Express. After serving as captain of the Colgate Red Raiders football squad, and earning All-Eastern College Athletic Conference honors in 1976, Mark faced a difficult choice between major league baseball and NFL football. In 1977, Murphy signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins and legendary coach George Allen, and never looked back.

An unusually large free safety (6-4, 210-pounds), Murphy impressed the Skins with his intense, hard-hitting style, a style by which he unfortunately inflicted punishment (seven career concussions) on himself as well as on opponents.. He starred for eight seasons with Washington, winning a Super Bowl ring as co-captain of the 1982 squad and sharing disappointment with teammates as a member of the losing side in 1983.

The All-Pro safety was selected for the pro Bowl in 1983, the year in which he led the NFL with nine interceptions. Always a steady, inspirational influence on teammates, Mark had his leadership qualities acknowledged by those teammates by his election as Redskin player representative to the NFL Player’s Association. The Murphy trophy room also includes a citation as Miller NFL Player of the Year for 1984, and selection to the Redskin 50th Anniversary Team first team.

Murphy’s activities on behalf of the NFL Player’s Union, particularly during the 1982 strike, did not endear him to management, and his playing career came to an unexpected conclusion with his release in 1985. Undaunted, Murphy completed an MBA in 1986, and later obtained a law degree from Georgetown University. Mark put his gridiron and classroom credentials to appropriate use as Vice-President of the NFL Player’s Association, and has subsequently served on various committees for the NCAA and the NFL Player’s Advisory Committee. In 1992, Mark brought his background full-circle by returning to Colgate as Athletic Director, and oversaw the school’s return to athletic prominence in the 1990s.

In 2002, in equal recognition for accomplishments off the field as much as for glory on the field, Mark Murphy added the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame to his impressive resume.