Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-Buccaneer Tom McHale found dead at 45

WESLEY CHAPEL — Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers lineman Tom McHale, who never went to a Super Bowl but said he'd rather be home anyway, was found dead in a friend's apartment Sunday morning. He was 45.

Related News/Archive

Foul play is not suspected in the death of the Tampa father of three and former restaurateur, said Pasco County Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll.

But it could take weeks for the medical examiner to determine a cause of death.

McHale was with Tampa Bay from 1987 to 1992.

"We lost a good one in Tom," said friend and former Buccaneer Tyrone Keys. "Tom was always a stand-up guy, always there for everybody. I'm just so very sorry for his loss, for the community and for his family."

Friend Martin Jackson found McHale dead in his apartment at 9:19 a.m., Doll said. McHale has a Tampa address, but deputies say at the time of his death he was staying with Jackson at Delano Apartments off State Road 56 in Wesley Chapel.

McHale and Jackson were attending a rehab center together, according to the Sheriff's Office, but deputies said they were unable to elaborate. Jackson contacted the center, they said, and reported McHale's death.

Someone at the center then notified McHale's wife, Lisa, who was in Jacksonville at the time, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The couple have three children: T.J., Mikey and Matthew. The oldest, T.J., was born with cerebral palsy.

Contacted at their Tampa Palms home Sunday night, the family declined comment.

"We were saddened to hear the news of his passing," said Tampa Bay Buccaneers spokesman Jeff Kamis.

McHale came to the Bucs from the Ivy League. The Cornell University grad was a versatile 6-foot-4, 275-pound athlete who was Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year in 1986. His wife also received a degree from Cornell.

Keys, a former Bucs defensive end, first met McHale in 1987. Keys had won a Super Bowl ring with the Chicago Bears the year before. McHale went undrafted but signed with Tampa Bay, hoping to make it into the NFL with the Creamsicle Buccaneers.

Veteran and rookie forged a lifelong friendship under the most grueling of circumstances: three-a-day practices under ex-coach Ray Perkins.

"When I think of Tom McHale, I think of that big grin he always had," Keys said. "He was always encouraging. He was always willing to help."

As a pass rusher McHale wore No. 99 his first season. But the next season he put on No. 73 and switched from defense to offense.

That's how McHale put together a nine-year NFL career playing offensive guard and tackle with Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Miami. After the switch, McHale went on to start 30 of his 59 games with the Bucs.

"I just remember him having real quick feet (along) with his work ethic and his willingness and toughness," Keys said, "and they wanted to find a place for him somewhere on that team."

After football, McHale went on to open two well-known Hillsborough County restaurants: McHale's Sports Pub on Howard Avenue in South Tampa and McHale's Chop House in Brandon.

It was a business he seemed destined for. Growing up in Maryland, McHale took over the cooking from his mother and started barbecuing for his four siblings. He opened his own produce stand at age 14.

At Cornell, he earned a bachelor's degree in hotel administration. After football, he managed a Longhorn Steakhouse in Brandon to get a feel for the business. Then he opened his own place in 1999.

McHale later sold his restaurants and went into real estate, according to Keys. But while he was in the restaurant business, Keys said, McHale was always quick to help out, especially with the Mike Alstott Family Foundation. McHale was also a former president of the Tampa chapter of the NFL Players Association's Retired Players division.

McHale watched the Bucs' Super Bowl win in 2003 from his Tampa home. He had no regrets, he told the St. Petersburg Times that year.

"In nine years of the NFL, I never went to a Super Bowl," he said then. "I would rather be at home."

Times staff writers Ernest Hooper, Stephen Holder, Alexandra Zayas and Mike Camunas contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6236.

Ex-Buccaneer Tom McHale found dead at 45 05/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, May 29, 2008 2:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa court hearing rescheduled for accused neo-Nazi jihadist killer

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Attorneys for Devon Arthurs, the alleged former neo-Nazi turned jihadist accused of shooting to death his two roommates, have asked to reschedule a court hearing that had been set for Wednesday morning.

  2. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem

    Corporate

    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]

  3. NATO rolls out the red carpet, buffs its image for Trump

    World

    BRUSSELS — NATO is not only rolling out the red carpet for U.S. President Donald Trump in Brussels Thursday, the military alliance — which Trump once declared obsolete — has been busy repackaging its image and is ready to unveil a new headquarters worth more than 1 billion euros.

    U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania arrive at Fiumicino's Leonardo Da Vinci International airport, near Rome, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Trump is in Italy for a two day visit, including a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, ahead of his participation in a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday. [Associated Press]
  4. Taiwan becomes first in Asia to recognize same-sex marriage

    World

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — In a first for Asia, Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, punctuating a yearslong campaign by advocates for gay rights in one of the continent's most liberal democracies.

    Same-sex marriage supporters wave rainbow Taiwan flags after the Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Taiwan's Constitutional Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, making the island the first place in Asia to recognize gay unions. [Associated Press]
  5. 'Top Gun' sequel? Tom Cruise says it starts filming soon

    Blogs

    Tom Cruise is once again feeling the need for speed.

    Tom Cruise starred in "Top Gun" in 1986, and said he'll begin work on a sequel within the next year.