Once again, we’re talking about Gerald McCoy, but it’s not as if it’s the last time we’ll be talking about him, since he’s not only a former Buccaneer, but also plays for a divisional rival, so get used to hearing the name and stop complaining about it. McCoy was asked to appear on FS1’s Undisputed television show with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. McCoy didn’t take to social media, he didn’t call up a radio station, and he didn’t hold a press conference. He was asked to appear on the show, and he agreed. As with any interview, he was asked questions, the very questions we knew they were going to ask, and I’m sure he knew as well, but he answered the questions given to him.
One thing he confirmed, was what I initially reported on the day of his release, that he was indeed made an offer by the Buccaneers that was financially lower than he was currently making, in an effort to restructure his deal, and he declined the offer. Public reports indicated that he had not been given an offer from the team, but sources confirmed to us that not only had an offer been made, but that it also had been turned down, and McCoy confirmed that very news. This is why we don’t jump the gun and simply give you a few lines and a tweet and call it news. We confirm the information given to us by our sources, and we then give it to you with the knowledge that you’re not being played for fools.
McCoy talked about how he felt disrespected by the Bucs organization due to a lack of communication not only from the ownership and General Manager Jason Licht, but also by Bruce Arians and the new coaching staff. He claims that nobody bothered to reach out to him, nobody picked up the phone and called him after being hired, nobody reached out to his agent, and nobody bothered to even send him a text message. In his view, being one of the biggest names on the team, and someone that had contributed a great deal during his time here, that the new coaching staff should have reached out and at least introduced themselves, but they couldn’t even bothered to do that.
He also felt disrespected by the Bucs organization due to their speed in not only signing someone to replace him, but to also hand him the jersey number that McCoy had been wearing his entire career as a Buc. The feeling of disrespect wasn’t because it was Suh who was hired and given the number, but the fact that he was only offered a one year contract and then given McCoy’s number. Gerald felt if Suh is only going to be here one year, and couldn’t possibly amass the numbers that McCoy had during his time here, that Suh should have simply been given a number other than 93.
McCoy pointed at former players such as Lynch and Barber, Alstott and Sapp, not only as players that put up Hall of Fame type numbers as a Buccaneer, but who had their jersey numbers either retired officially or simply had jersey numbers that you know you’d better not ask for. The Bucs have been very reserved in which jersey numbers they officially retire, as they’ve only retired 3 numbers since their inception, Selmon, Brooks, and Sapp. However, there are a few unofficially retired numbers as well, as nobody is going to be wearing numbers that belonged to Lynch, Alstott, or Barber anytime soon if ever. While some people will claim it’s just a number, and that the players shouldn’t get attached to them, the numbers are part of their identity as a player. You see their name and numbers on jerseys and shirts, posters and cups, collector cards and video games, and often times, the number is just as well known as the player’s name. When someone thinks of the Texans and 99, they automatically think of JJ Watt, and McCoy felt the same, when people think of Tampa Bay and 93, they think of Gerald McCoy.
Some have said he’s soft, emotional, and simply needs to shut up and move on, but those complaining are just as emotional and voicing their opinions just as much as McCoy if not more so. It’s impossible to call McCoy soft given the fact that week in and week out, the man is battling some of the biggest and baddest athletes in the world, something those calling him soft could never do themselves. Those calling him soft have never had to step onto an NFL field in full gear with a stadium full of people in 90 degree heat, and spend the next several hours battling one on one with someone the likes of Mitchell Schwartz, or Jason Peters, or whomever he comes face mask to face mask with on any given play. If he was soft, as some would like to claim, they’d be lined up for the Bucs, and he’d have been sitting at home calling them soft. If McCoy were truly soft as some want to think, he wouldn’t be sitting #3 on the Bucs team for all time sacks, nor would he have recorded almost 300 tackles.
Some want to look at McCoy’s time here and their failures as a team, as a way of saying he wasn’t deserving of respect, but that is about as insane of a comment as one can make. Gerald McCoy is only one player, a player that too often was given no help, no support, and was expected to carry some horrible, horrible defenses. This isn’t basketball where one or two players can carry an entire team the way Jordan and Pippen carried the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s. The offense has to find a way to score which is something McCoy had no control of. The secondary has to be able to stop receivers from catching the ball, which is something McCoy had no control of. The linebackers have to be able to make stops across the middle, which is something McCoy wasn’t responsible for. The coaches have to put the players and the team in the position to win, and ensure they’re calling the right plays, something McCoy had no part of. When a team wins, it’s an entire team effort, and when they lose, it also must be an entire team effort.
People want to point to the fact that McCoy never won a Super Bowl during his time as a Buccaneer, but Lee Roy Selmon never won a championship, and he’s one of if not the greatest Buccaneer of all time. Ricky Bell was another one of the greatest Buccaneer players of all time and was named to the Tampa Stadium Krewe of Honor, yet he never won a championship. If you can’t argue that they are two of the greatest Buccaneer players of all time, despite having never won a Championship, then you can’t use McCoy’s lack of a Championship as a reason he should get disrespected by the team and simply forgotten about as if he never played.
The team can’t be faulted for moving on from McCoy and releasing him, as football is a business, and teams are going to make decisions based on that. Some players wind up being released due to performance issues, while others are released because of off-field issues that often involve legal troubles, and some players wind up simply being cut due to salary cap issues or their not fitting into the new plans a coach or owner may have. Arians has stated that the main reason McCoy was let go was not based on money, but rather he felt McCoy didn’t fit in when they took a look at the players they had and the new schemes they plan to implement. If that truly was the reason, and given Arians isn’t one to shy away from the truth, then there’s no reason McCoy should have not been contacted by the new coaching staff, and there’s no reason there should have been any way for a player to have felt disrespected.
When Arians time as head coach comes to an end, and a new coaching staff is brought in, should they be expected to give Mike Evans a call? What if they decided not to, would that not be seen as disrespecting not only the player, but also the man? I know I certainly don’t put up with being disrespected or feeling as if I’d been disrespected, and I’m sure most of you don’t either, but somehow McCoy is expected to. I don’t know too many people that would simply stay quiet if their bosses had disrespected them, unless they were afraid of losing their jobs, and that’s something McCoy obviously wasn’t afraid of.
McCoy did the job he was paid to do, and he was paid VERY well for that job. He made millions of dollars during his time as a Buccaneer, and for that payment, he amassed numbers that put him 3rd all time on the Buccaneers sacks list, 3rd all time on the Buccaneers in tackles for loss, and 1st all time on the Buccaneers for hits on opposing QB’s since it became an official stat. Along with those rankings and his accumulated stats, he was respected and liked by his teammates and previous coaches, he was heavily involved in charity work and in the community, and he was a fan favorite his entire time as a Buc. Some might say his being a fan favorite has no bearing on how he’s viewed in regards to being inducted into the Ring of Honor or having his number officially or unofficially retired, but if the view and opinion of the fans carries no weight at all, then why should they bother spending their money? If we want the fans to show up to the games, buy the merchandise, and spend their hard earned money, then should they not have their opinion and voices heard when it comes to such things as who is put into the Ring of Honor?
Nobody can tell McCoy how he should feel, or how he should perceive things, That’s something only he can be the judge of. Nobody can sit there and say they themselves wouldn’t have spoken up if they felt disrespected. Nobody can say he should stay quiet unless they themselves are willing to stay quiet. Nobody can really grasp if he’s soft as a player unless they too have lined up against that level of competition.
We all have our favorite players and teams. We all have ideas on things we think the team should and shouldn’t do, players they should and shouldn’t sign, and plays they should or shouldn’t call. We all have ideas on what we think a team could or should do differently in regards to changing the culture or what they need to do for the fans. We have our own preferences when it comes to things such as jersey designs and marketing. That’s part of what is great about being a fan, is we can have our own ideas and thoughts, and we can share them with other fans around the world.
What we have to keep in mind however, is that the players we love to watch, the players we love to support, the players we willingly spend our hard earned money on, are simply that, players. They are men who are hired to play a game and do a job. They don’t get to suddenly stop being men, and they don’t get to suddenly stop being human. They will have opinions the same as we all do, and they will have emotions the same as we all do. They will let their voices be heard, just as we want our voices to be heard, and they will speak up when they feel disrespected, just as we all would. They are incredible athletes that do a job very few can, but outside of that, they are no different than you or I, and they shouldn’t be expected to be either.