When your franchise is around for more than 40 years, the record book gets pretty thick. There are all kinds of names that flood statistically categories at the bottom or in the middle of the pack. But, for certain positions, there are names that you see rapidly climb the list and even make it to the top of some of those lists.
For Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, he’s seen his name rise the ranks each year since he was drafted to Tampa Bay in 2010. One of the honors McCoy holds close to his heart is being elected to the Pro Bowl. On Tuesday, the league announced that McCoy will be adding yet another Pro Bowl honor to his resume for the 2017 season.
“ trying to give this city, this team, this organization, this game everything I have year-in and year-out,” McCoy said. “It’s not easy. It’s very stressful at times, but I love it. It’s an honor.”
This year’s honor makes it six Pro Bowls in a row for McCoy dating back to the 2012 season. Earlier this year McCoy said that there was “someone he was chasing” on the Buccaneers record list when it came to Pro Bowl honors, and on Tuesday night he confirmed to us that the man he’s chasing is former Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp.
“We all have our own personal goals,” McCoy said. “It’s rare that you ever hear me talk about any of mine, but I have a great mentor – one of the other great defensive linemen that played here – and I talk to him regularly. He did seven, so I have something to chase.”
It’s one thing to be recognized by your own teammates and coaches. These are the player who see the work you put in day-in and day-out. They have a first-hand look at why a player might deserve a Pro Bowl. But, it really is another thing to have your success, your reputation and your work ethic speak for you outside the walls of your practice facility and outside your city limits.
“It means a lot,” McCoy said. “I’m up here by myself a lot. I train alone a lot. This is not easy to come by, especially to do it consistently. It’s great to be recognized.”
Gerald McCoy has accomplished many things in Tampa Bay already at just 29 years old. His 47.5 sacks is good for third all time in the franchise’ history, trailing just Simeon Rice and his mentor, Sapp. He’s been a team captain for most of his career, and of course, his sixth Pro Bowl now ties him for the third most in Buccaneers history.
So how does McCoy stay hungry for more? He forgets the others one ever happened.
“I heard something the other day… ‘the biggest hindrance of reaching your potential is your past successes.’ So I can’t look back at all the things that I’ve done if I want to reach my full potential and continue to get better.”
Six Pro Bowl is a lot, but it all starts somewhere. McCoy was asked when he really started to think his name could be up there with the likes of Brooks, Rice, Lynch and his mentor, Sapp. McCoy said it was put in his brain to be great after the very first one thanks to a call from a man who has motivated McCoy ever since, and still does to this day.
“It was after [my] first Pro Bowl,” McCoy said. “99 (Warren Sapp) called me and said, ‘Congratulation on one. What you gonna do now?’ He said now it’s time to stack ’em. When he said that it meant something to me. It was then he told me to chase the ghosts of the game; the ones who did it before you. Go study ’em, research ’em. See who did what before you and chase ’em… Who better to chase than a guy in (this) Ring of Honor and who has a gold jacket – Hall of Fame.”
The NFL also announced that three other Buccaneers players have been selected as alternates to the Pro Bowl: linebacker Kwon Alexander (third alternate), tight end Cam Brate (third alternate) and linebackerLavonte David (second alternate).
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org