DECEMBER 4, 1989
A few hours into his shift on New Year's Eve 2001, New York City police recruit Stephen McGuire popped into a mid-town Manhattan McDonald's trying to get warm on the frigid night. A booming voice called out to him, "Hey, you McGuire? Didn't you play football at Miami?" The man speaking was Detective Cyril Lloyd, who was also on duty that night and happened to be the special teams coach for New York's Finest, the police department's football team. Lloyd is always looking for players, and McGuire had been on two national championship teams as a fullback with the Hurricanes in 1989 and '91. "To this day I still don't know how he recognized me," says McGuire, who had been on the force for five months.
In 1993 McGuire graduated from Miami with a degree in criminal justice and the Hurricanes' alltime touchdown record (35, since tied by Edgerrin James). After the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins cut the 5'11", 175-pound McGuire in tryouts in '93, '94 and '95, he turned to coaching. Over the next two years he was an assistant at three Miami-area high schools, and in 1997 he began a three-year stint teaching at-risk youth in Fort Lauderdale. He accepted an offer to go on a few ride-alongs with the Fort Lauderdale police and got such a rush riding in the squad cars that he traded in his teaching certificate for an NYPD badge. "Where else would you want to be a cop but in New York City?" says McGuire, who moved with his wife, Ramona, and their children, Michael, 14, Stephen, 9, and Allainah, 2, to his native Brooklyn.
Two months into his new job McGuire was in the middle of integrity training at the police academy when he learned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. After the second plane hit, the recruits were sent into the streets, and McGuire spent the next 15 hours directing traffic. "It was hectic, but I got through it," he says. "When people come up to you and say, 'Thank you and God bless you,' it makes it all worth it."
Last winter McGuire began practicing with New York's Finest and quickly readjusted to life as a football player, scoring six touchdowns while leading the Finest to a 6-0 record and the National Public Safety Football League tide in June. McGuire hopes to eventually become a sergeant and work in an emergency services unit, but for now he's looking forward to the upcoming season this spring, when he'll be back in a familiar position—defending a national title.