There was an item in my SR’s Fab 5 column on PewterReport.com on Friday that touched a nerve with Pro Bowl Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and rightly so looking back on it. McCoy and I spoke on the phone today to clear up some misperceptions on a couple of topics.
The first of which was my suggesting there could be some jealousy between McCoy and rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, who has become the face of the franchise.
Here is what I wrote in my SR’s Fab 5 column in its entirety:
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by Mark Cook/PR
“Speaking of Twitter, Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy tweeted on Wednesday night that he had no beef with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, the team’s first-round pick in 2015. McCoy wrote: “And if you believe me and Jameis are beefing you’re an idiot. Stop believing everything you read!! That’s my brother!! Straight up!!””
“I don’t think many in the media believe there is any beef between McCoy and Winston at all. I’ve mentioned before that there appears to be some jealously and perhaps some sulking from McCoy about all of the attention Winston has received, and so has Tampa Bay Times Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud. Maybe others have mentioned it, too.”
“At least that appears to be the perception, and I know that there are some within the Bucs organization that also feel that’s the case and they see McCoy a heck of a lot more than us Bucs beat writers. If that isn’t reality perhaps McCoy needs to change the perception in 2016.”
McCoy took issue with that remark and texted me, so I contacted him and we discussed it. I apologized for not calling him first to get his side of the story rather than just use his tweet from his Twitter account.
Based on our conversation, I retract the statement I made and removed it from my SR’s Fab 5 column. I’m certainly not afraid to admit when I’m wrong, and this is one of those instances. That was a mistake on my part, and I’m glad that we spoke because he wanted to use this article to set the record straight with PewterReport.com, other members of the media and Bucs fans about a couple of issues, starting with any perceived jealousy towards Winston.
The hope is that other members of the media or the fan base that shares that misperception of McCoy can have it dispelled.
“I don’t want to draw attention to myself at all, but what I do want is clarity,” McCoy said. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was jealous of my own teammate. That’s not going to happen. I love my teammates and I want them to be as great as they can be. The better my teammates are the better the team is, so why would someone be jealous of getting publicity and having success?
“If my teammates are successful that means the team is winning. I love all my teammates. I love them. I’ve rented out theaters for my team. I do stuff with them in the offseason. I’m buying gifts for my teammates. I even took the entire team to dinner. These are the things that I’m doing for my teammates because I love them. I love being in Tampa and I want to win. That’s what I’m about. For anyone to say that I have a riff with Jameis or I’m jealous … come on, man. I know that things go on in Tampa and a lot of stuff can happen to where stories get written – it’s been like that since I’ve been here. But for people to say that I’m jealous of our franchise quarterback? No.”
McCoy said he has absolutely no issue with Winston becoming the face of the franchise. In fact, he welcomes it.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
“I said in the offseason that this face of the franchise would be shifted to Jameis,” McCoy said. “Now we just want him to enjoy being a rookie, but once the face comes, once it’s his team, there is a lot that comes with it. I’ve said this in an interview at the podium. For people to say that I’m jealous, I’ve already said it’s going to shift. I believed it and I said it early because I knew how successful this kid was going to be. I don’t get jealous. There is no point in being jealous.”
McCoy stated that he and Winston have a strong bond on and off the field. True to his word, he has played a role mentoring the rookie quarterback in Tampa Bay since the moment he walked into One Buccaneer Place.
“I got Jameis’ number before the draft and after he was drafted I immediately sent Jameis a text welcoming him to the team and saying that we love having him on the Bucs,” McCoy said. “Before his press conference the next day I met him in the player’s lounge. I met his parents and his family and told them to his face, ‘I’m going to take care of your son. You don’t have to worry about him while he’s in Tampa.’ The reason I did that is because I know the pressure that comes with being a first-round pick. I may not know what the pressure is like being the first overall pick or a quarterback, but being a first-round pick, I knew the pressure. I just wanted to be in his corner and let he and his parent know that I was here for him. Jameis and I have had numerous one-on-ones at his house, at work, at various places and on the phone. I wanted to let him know that I’m a veteran and I’ve been through this. I told him to enjoy being a rookie. Eventually this was going to be his team.
“I love Jameis like a brother. I’ve gotten to know Jameis and we’ve grown pretty close. I’m so happy that Jameis is our franchise quarterback. If you have a franchise quarterback and they become the face of your franchise that means that you are winning. That’s a positive thing. I’ve been wanting that since I’ve been in Tampa. If anybody is happy about it, it’s Gerald. I’m so happy he’s on our team.”
One of the reasons for the misperception that McCoy might have an issue over sharing the spotlight with the rookie phenom was this pre-game video on Buccaneers.com, which shows Winston in the middle of the huddle before Tampa Bay’s win over Dallas with McCoy appearing to look disinterested on the outskirts of the huddle. I asked McCoy about that and he was happy to provide some context.
“The reason I don’t stand in the circle is that I get into a zone,” McCoy said. “I’ve been blessed to play this game and I pray that God not just covers and protects me, but also my teammates. As my teammates are doing their thing, I’m praying over my teammates. That’s why it looks like I’m off in space. Internally, I’m praying over my teammates. I’ve always done that. That’s how I get prepared for a game. When I’m asked to get in the circle – if that’s what my teammates need for me, that’s what I’ll do. I was asked to speak in the huddle in the preseason game at Jacksonville last year and this year against Chicago. That’s it – only two times. My teammates know that’s not what I do. I’ll speak up to them in practice and I’ll do it in the locker room. I’ll call them and pull guys to the side. I lead that way. I lead with what I do, not by what I say. That’s not me. I’ve never been that guy. So for people to look for me to be that guy, you’ve got the wrong one.”
McCoy said he’s glad that Winston serves the role of fire-starter for the team before kickoff because he has always been uncomfortable in that role, which is why he doesn’t take it on.
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Getty Images
“That’s why we have Jameis. He is that guy that will talk to you before the game. That’s what he does. I lead in a different way. There are all different types of leaders. I’ve never done that. Ask any of my teammates and they’ll say, ‘G doesn’t get in the circle. That’s not what he does.’ I let everybody else do the inner circle pump-up talk. I’ve never been that guy – ever. Throughout the week I’m calling my teammates, I’m talking to my teammates and I’m texting my teammates. I push guys in practice. I push guys in the meetings. That’s who I am.”
McCoy made it clear he isn’t sulking in that video. He’s just being introspective in pre-game. He’s being himself.
“I’ve always been a calm guy, and I love this game, so I don’t have to do all that before the game,” McCoy said. “I’ve never told anybody that they’re doing too much or that they have to do all that yelling to play football. I let everybody be himself. Whatever it takes for my teammates to be ready, I’m all for it. Jameis and I lead in completely different ways. The reason he gets in the middle of the circle is because that’s the kind of player he is. He’s more vocal and outspoken, whether it’s in the locker room or before or after the game. I’m more of an action leader. I talk with guys more one-on-one.
“Moving forward it’s going to take more than just me and Jameis. It’s going to take all the leaders on the team – but this is Jameis Winston’s team. It just is. I’m glad it is. This is what we need. He’s the type of leader we need moving forward. I’m happy he’s the guy. I told everybody early on that the face of the franchise would be Jameis Winston. It’s his [franchise]. It got passed on at midseason and I’m happy about because that means that something positive is going on.”
McCoy spoke with a great deal of sincerity and made it crystal clear that there is no animosity towards Winston – only genuine respect.
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Getty Images
“There are teams around the league that have multiple faces, but then you have the quarterback, who is the true face of the franchise,” McCoy said. “Tom Brady is the face of the Patriots, but when they were first making that run and became that dynasty there were multiple faces. Then it needed to be Tom Brady. With the Bucs it is Jameis, but it is multiple faces, too. We have Vincent Jackson. We have Mike Evans. We have myself. We have Lavonte David. We have multiple faces, but we have Jameis and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s going to take all of us to move this team forward and we have to be at our best on and off the field.”
I appreciate McCoy taking the time during his offseason to go on the record with PewterReport.com and set the record straight.
“Everybody has a job to do and I understand that,” McCoy said. “A lot of stuff that’s written I don’t take personal, but things of this magnitude need to be addressed. My shoulder has been messed up all season and my hand was broken, and I’m still out there. Regardless of whether I’m at 70 percent or 50 percent, I’m still giving everything I have. So for a person to suggest that because I’m standing outside the circle because I don’t care about winning is wrong. I just feel like all of this stuff needed to be cleared up.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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