A unique offseason of tragedy and eye-opening experiences has changed the life of Bucs DT Gerald McCoy. McCoy, a second-year pro, says he is more focused and cautious about life as an NFL player.
It has been a strange offseason throughout the NFL. The reason is the lockout of NFL players that up to this point has delayed free agency and cancelled offseason practices. For Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, it has been a strange offseason for him off the field – and not just because of the lockout. McCoy has seen some trials and tribulations that he says has affected his life greatly. The change in McCoy started with a charity trip to Africa with fellow Oklahoma football players.
“Africa was a different type of experience. It was a life-changing experience,” said McCoy. “It was an eye-opening experience. I’ve altered the way I’ve lived after being over there in Africa. You realize how much you take for granted, and how much we really do have over here. I’m a lot more cautious with how I live and spend my money. You don’t expect to see people live that way, but we had fun with it. We got to do a lot of stuff as far as giving out water, feeding children, we dug water holes, we laid the foundation for a new school that is being built, we did a lot of good stuff, a lot of great things and fun things.
“We even climbed this mountain to visit some gorillas in their natural habitat. That was fun, but it was a nine-mile hike. It was like working out.”
McCoy has spent the vast majority of his offseason in San Diego, California working with famed trainer Todd Durkin. After tearing his biceps last December, McCoy asked his agent, Kelli Masters, for a recommendation about an elite trainer to help him in his recovery. Masters suggested Durkin, the trainer who successfully helped Drew Brees come back from a shoulder tear prior to the 2006 season. At the time of the injury, some wondered if Brees would ever be the same, and that caused the Miami Dolphins to sign Daunte Culpepper instead of Brees in free agency. Brees signed with New Orleans and led them to their first Super Bowl Championship just two years ago.
McCoy has been working out rigorously and has been a mainstay in the weight room and training room with Durkin. McCoy did take some time to go back to his home state of Oklahoma and work out with his college teammates, while also doing some charity work at his high school.
“I did a fundraiser last week at my high school,” said McCoy. “I donated some band uniforms and drums to my alma mater. I teamed up with the Oklahoma City public schools to start giving back. That’s another thing that I’m doing right now and that is going well.”
Shortly after leaving to head back to San Diego, McCoy learned that a former teammate and friend Austin Box was found dead.
“I had actually just left working out with a lot of my teammates,” said McCoy. “I got a text from one of my friends saying did you hear about Box? I said, 'No I didn’t.' So I looked it up and it said he was flown to the hospital unresponsive and an hour later he passed away. I couldn’t even really fathom him not being here anymore. It is real. It is reality. It is a sad story. I always say I didn’t grow up with brothers, so my teammates I treat as family. He was a family member, so it was tough to take. God works how he wants to, so we just have to accept it.”
McCoy was a two-year captain at Oklahoma and was a teammate of Box from 2007-2009. Box had just graduated and was finishing his Oklahoma career.
“He was a strong guy,” McCoy said. “He worked hard in workouts. Was a great team guy, a great player, I hate it for his parents. We are going to miss him.”
McCoy also had his attention glued to his home state when a series of tornadoes ravaged parts of the state recently.
“It impacts me because that is where I’m from. That’s my home state,” said McCoy. “I’ve been praying for all those people back home and wishing them good luck. As far as me personally, my family is okay. Kelli [Masters], my agent, is okay and everybody else connected to us is okay. As far as everybody else it is a said thing to hear.”
In his rookie campaign, McCoy started 13 games in Tampa Bay before ending the season on injured reserve. After a slow start, McCoy came on strong in the second half of the season. He recorded three sacks in two games against Baltimore and San Francisco. Against the 49ers, he had two half sacks, so one could say he two multi-sack games back-to-back. For the season, McCoy recorded 43 tackles with six tackles for a loss, three sacks, 17 quarterback pressures, five passes batted down, and one forced fumble. McCoy says he is nearly 100 percent healthy from the biceps injury.
“I’m all right. I’m not quite there, but I’m getting there. I’m getting there real fast,” said McCoy. “I work out five times a week. I’m constantly rehabbing. I do pilates two times a week and I get massages two times a week. I stay pretty busy. It is strictly business. I’ve been out here in San Diego for what’s going on four months. It is hard work, man. This lockout thing is a little strange for everybody, but all I can do is be ready.”
McCoy said he has been extremely focused on his preparation for the 2011 football season. He has been lobbied to take some breaks and vacations, but he has refused to stop working out and rehabbing. McCoy also devotes a lot of time to film study. When asked about his work with Durkin and how this offseason is going from a strictly football perspective, that was where McCoy felt there was lots of positives.
“The offseason is going great [regarding football],” said McCoy. “I’m in real good shape right now. I’m slimming down. Getting my strength back. I look like a complete different person. I’ve been out here in San Diego working out. From time to time I make appearances here and there and go do some things.”
With training camp scheduled to begin in a couple of months McCoy should be ready to hit the ground running due to his intensity this offseason.
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