No longer old 'Shady,' Bucs' McCoy has shot at Super repeat

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

New Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) runs along side running back LeSean McCoy (25) during an NFL football practice Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

LeSean McCoy knows the end is near.

Maybe after the Super Bowl. Maybe after next season.

The 32-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back isn't quite sure when he'll take the final snap of a terrific career during which he has gone from rising star to All-Pro do-it-all dynamo to veteran backup. But McCoy certainly won't complain about where the journey has ended up.

Back-to-back Super Bowls. With two franchises.

“First of all, I've got to let you know that I'm the rabbit's foot,” McCoy said with a big grin. “When I go to a team, I make it happen.”

All joking aside, if the Buccaneers can beat his former squad — the Kansas City Chiefs — on Sunday, that difficult decision about his future might be made for him. Sealed with another ring.

“If I get two championships, I mean, with all my resume, it might be over,” McCoy said. “But you never know. So, I’ll just take it every day and I’ll kind of revisit that when the time presents itself.”

McCoy is simply enjoying the moment, cherishing an opportunity that was more elusive than any of the moves he routinely flashed as one of the NFL's top playmakers in his prime.

“They always give me the stories about how they would play me in the video games while they were in high school,” McCoy said of his Bucs teammates.

He spent his first six seasons in Philadelphia before four in Buffalo. And never sniffed a Super Bowl.

There were some off-field issues, too, including being accused by an ex-girlfriend of physical abuse — allegations McCoy vehemently denied. The lawsuit was later settled.

The Bills cut him after training camp in 2019, and McCoy signed with Kansas City and his former Eagles coach Andy Reid. That came after a bit of soul searching.

“I had so many teams reaching out to me,” McCoy recalled. “I was like, man, do I chase the money or do I chase winning? I want to win.”

And he finally got to the big game. McCoy went from being a starter early in the season to being inactive for the Chiefs' win over San Francisco a year ago, but he was thrilled to be a champion.

Here he is again, a victory away from a repeat — even if he's far from a focal point on offense.

“The role has changed for me, but the goal hasn’t,” he said. “The goal is to win the championship. I want to be part of that."

McCoy is buried on the depth chart behind Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette. That explains the lack of production in the regular season: 10 carries for 31 yards, and 15 catches for 101 yards. McCoy has played just three snaps in the playoffs.

Not exactly shades of “Shady” from his earlier days.

“His legacy is set in stone,” Bucs running backs coach Todd McNair said. “He’s been a phenomenal player. And the thing about it is these younger guys, they remember watching Shady. They've seen him play throughout his career. I know all of them, they've got a healthy level of respect for him. And I lean on him to offer his experience.”

McCoy insists he's OK where he's at after gradually coming to grips with his role last year while with the Chiefs.

“At this point, I want to win,” he said. “I mean, everybody knows the things I’ve done. I want to be able to still affect the game.”

And he does, even if it's not in the way he once did — with the ball in his hands.

“It's kind of like having a semi-coach out there, just telling you what to expect,” said Jones, who had a team-leading 978 yards rushing. “He's like, ‘Hey, RoJo, look for this. The defense is doing this and that.’ ... Outstanding career. I'm still learning from him as we speak now.”

McCoy's resume is filled with gaudy stats: 11,102 yards rushing — 22nd on the NFL's all-time list — with 73 TDs, along with 518 receptions for 3,898 yards and 16 scores. He's the Eagles' career leading rusher, and Philadelphia still holds a special place in McCoy's heart.

“If I could've had a championship,” he said, "I wish it would've been when I was an Eagle.”

When he does decide to hang up the cleats, he says he'll do it as a member of the Eagles. That reunion almost happened last offseason. While the timing didn't seem right in Philadelphia, McCoy saw what Tampa Bay was building — starting with Tom Brady.

“It just made sense,” McCoy said. “I thought that was my best chance to get to the Super Bowl.”

He was right. Again.

“It's so, so crazy, man,” he said. “As I sit back and think about my decision making, it really worked out. The way we planned it is actually how it's going. So that was kind of pretty cool.”

Oh, and as for that catchy nickname that became so popular in his prime, it's officially retired.

Even while McCoy is still going.

“That ‘Shady’ nickname is way gone,” he said with a smile. “People call me that just because that's the name they know of. But, nah, I'm way different.”


More AP NFL: and