Gerald McCoy has never been one to shy away from a microphone. Always appreciated, media members who follow the team, can expect McCoy to share his thoughts during the week or following game, whether it was a big win or a tough loss.
However, McCoy rarely gets controversial, and mostly steers clear of generating major headlines. But on Thursday, standing in front of his locker, McCoy wanted to make a point about the hypocrisy of the NFL as far as showing emotion.
The question and answer started of innocently enough, as McCoy was asked about players being able to wear special cleats for the leagues “My Cause Cleat Week” coming up Week 13 of the season.
Jameis Winston’s cleats for JDRF – Photo: Mark Cook/PR
“I think it’s great man, guy just express themselves and show what’s in their heart and what means a lot to them,” McCoy said. “Like you said, we don’t get a lot of chances to express ourselves, that’s why there’s so many fines going on and so many flags being thrown, it’s like we’ve got handcuffs on. I don’t mind saying that, because that’s what I believe, the NFL is putting handcuffs on us and not letting us express ourselves. It’s very hard to make a play in the NFL, and to do it consistently, but just doing it once, that emotion comes out.”
McCoy went onto to talk about the double standards he feels the league is part of.
“I know for a fact, that when I was rookie, Goodell himself told my class in his office to show that emotion on draft day, and to be able to express how you feel to be able to play this game, and to show the joy, the excitement you get from having an opportunity to play in the NFL,” McCoy continued. “So when guys are doing that and getting flagged for it, it’s like, what kind of sense does that make? It’s not like anybody is flipping the bird to the fans.”
Photo by: Getty Images
McCoy knows firsthand about the league’s Jekyll and Hyde approach to flagging players for celebrations, while also struggling to interpret other penalties and rules. He was penalized Week 1 in Atlanta for excessive celebration following a sack of Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan.
“Guys are just dancing or whatever it may be, it’s just excitement from making a play, you know?” McCoy said. “Guys aren’t cursing out reporters, you know what I’m saying? It takes the fun out of the game, you don’t know what you can and can’t do anymore, so for them to give us an opportunity to express ourselves, you know this week on our cleats, it’s great.”
McCoy brings up a great point. With TV rating falling, a lack of clear rule clarification (what is catch or not) and a slight decline in the popularity of the NFL, why not allow players to have more fun? Certainly taunting or disrespecting other players has no place in the game, but McCoy getting flagged for high-fiving and dancing with Kwon Alexander following a sack, or Chris Conte getting 15 yards for taking the Nestle Ice Tea Plunge following a pick-6?
Former Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville coined the acronym that the NFL stands for “Not For Long” but many have said it should stand for “No Fun League.”
Maybe the NFL is loosening up by allowing players to wear special cleats for a one week of the season, but don’t count on it. You can bet before the season ends there will be a number of catches that officials can’t figure out if they were good or not, but even more flags for players who “excessively celebrate” a touchdown, sack or interception return.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com