This is the third in a series of six stories profiling the members of the 2009 class of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Anthony “Booger” McFarland: Will of a Champion and Heart of Gold
By Amanda Joseph
LSU Sports Information
Every athlete measures success differently. Some measure it by the amount of medals they have won. Others might take into consideration All-American honors, MVP awards, a first-round draft pick, and a successful career as a professional athlete. Anthony “Booger” McFarland has accomplished all of those things, and on March 10 he will add member of the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame to that list.
McFarland will be inducted into this year’s LSU Athletics Hall of Fame along with five other legends on that night at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Other inductees include legendary football and track coach Bernie Moore, long-time LSU trainer Dr. Martin J. Broussard (profile), track and field Olympian Esther Jones (profile), renowned basketball and baseball coach Harry Rabenhorst and softball All-American Britni Sneed.
Tuesday night's 2009 LSU Hall of Fame Banquet is sponsored by Moniotte Investments, Deumite Construction, and Rabenhorst Funeral Homes.
McFarland said, “it is such an honor to be mentioned among these great athletes at LSU. When I started playing football here, this is something I would have never imagined.”
McFarland did not go through life having everything handed to him. He grew up in the small town of Winnsboro, La., and learned at a young age that he had to work very diligently to accomplish his dreams.
“Growing up in a small town, I knew that nothing would be handed to me. I had to work for everything, and I appreciate everything that I have achieved because of it,” said McFarland.
After receiving all-state honors and many other awards from Winnsboro High School, McFarland began his successful tenure at LSU as a defensive lineman. He started as a true freshman in 1995, played all four years and made memories that would last him a life time.
“I will never forget what happened on October 11, 1997. LSU beat the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators. It was the first time I had ever seen 100,000 people in one place and the true spirit of college football,” he said.
McFarland was a part of something special at LSU. He helped rebuild the LSU football program and lay the foundation for the years to come.
“We turned the program around. Our team went from six losing seasons to winning again. Here we are 15 years later and the program is going strong and LSU is still winning,” said McFarland. “I feel so special that I was able to be a part of that turning point in LSU Football history.”
McFarland had plenty of success at LSU and as a professional athlete, but he measures success in more of an intangible way. “I like to measure success according to work ethic. It is the most important thing an athlete can possess,” he stated.
This trait of having a strong work ethic is what separates McFarland from other athletes. Former LSU football coach Gerry DiNardo said, “I have never seen anyone with more will power than this man has. He wasn’t the fastest, strongest, or biggest person I had on that field, but he worked hard and I respect that more than anything.”
McFarland’s strong will wasn’t limited to the football field. “Graduating in 1999 was a huge moment in my life,” said McFarland. “Coming from a small town, I just never imagined the day would come when I could walk across the stage with a diploma in my hand.”
Graduating helped prove to McFarland that LSU is so much more than athletics. “It’s an institution for academic growth, and I thank Coach (DiNardo) for helping me realize that,” he said.
Coach DiNardo also encouraged his athletes to achieve more than awards and diplomas. He encouraged them to dream big.
“LSU and Coach (DiNardo) opened my eyes. I realized what was out there and what I could achieve,” he said. “Before coming to LSU, I would have never imagined the things that I accomplished here. At LSU I learned that a person can never set the bar too high.”
McFarland also stated that he is still learning about dreams and ambitions and how to be successful.
“It is a learning process and always will be, but I am thankful for the experiences at LSU that helped me realize nothing is impossible,” he said.
In addition to McFarland’s strong will and great work ethic, Coach DiNardo realized something else about Anthony McFarland. He had a heart of gold.
“I absolutely loved this kid. He was a great ball player and worked hard in school, but more importantly he was a great person,” said DiNardo.
McFarland has given back to the community in numerous ways. He has worked with the Kids Wish Network, Shriners Hospital’s Holiday of Hope, Children’s Week and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco).
However, working with charities is not all McFarland wanted to do. He created his own organization entitled “Booger’s Bucs Can Wait”. This is a program to educate kids about making good decisions on issues such as smoking, drinking, using drugs and relationships. The program was introduced by McFarland in 2002 and each year he makes presentations to schools regarding these issues.
“I wanted to make sure that I was known for something other than just playing football. Life is not about the material things in this world. I wanted to make sure that I leave something of value behind,” said McFarland.
It is obvious that McFarland has been very successful, but he stresses that it is the intangibles that separate good athletes from great athletes.
“I believe that work ethic, heart and a strong will have made me the person that I am today,” he said. “It is the things you can’t see that are the keys to success.”
McFarland is a living example of how determination and heart can play a major factor in achieving ones hopes and dreams.