Keith McCants Dead At 53

September 3rd, 2021

Former Bucs LB Keith McCants

Between the time the Bucs washed their hands of Doug Williams and when Father Dungy took over as Bucs coach, hardly anything went right for the Bucs.

And, sadly, the two faces of the Bucs’ futility during those awful years were a pair of fantastic players from the state of Alabama who didn’t do squat in Tampa.

The first was Bo Jackson. Drafted first overall by the Bucs, Jackson never laced up a pair of cleats for the Bucs. He instead played baseball and then tormented NFL defenses for the Raiders.

The second man from Alabama who highlighted Bucs despair was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1990 NFL Draft, linebacker Keith McCants, an absolute terror in college at Alabama.

He was a massive washout. McCants later got hooked on all sorts of pills and only played three years for the Bucs. His sad story of life after college football ended yesterday when he was found dead in his St. Petersburg home. He was 53.

John Breech of CBS Sports documents that St. Petersburg police are investigating the cause of death as a possible drug overdose.

McCants was fairly open about his battles with drugs. In a Vice Sports interview, McCants admitted heavy drug use.

“Before [my career was] over with I was consuming over 183 pills a week, not knowing the effects it had on my liver or my kidneys,” McCants told Vice Sports in 2015. “Or, more importantly, developing a split personality with violent tendencies that my family had to deal with.”

McCants is a sad example of how quickly living the high life of being a top college star and an expected savior of a floundering NFL franchise can quickly come crashing down and crush a soul.

33 Responses to “Keith McCants Dead At 53”

  1. Steven007 Says:

    Take a great college inside linebacker and try to make him a defensive end. What was Ray Perkins thinking?. Anyways, that’s kind of beside the point. Troubled life and sad he couldn’t get himself on track. Seemed like he was headed in the right direction there for a while.

  2. BradyBucs Says:

    Crazy to think that they passed on Junior Seau and Emmitt Smith in that draft to select McCants.

  3. FortMyersDave Says:

    Rough times back then BradyBuc. The year before the McCants pick the Bucs got Broderick Thomas after just missing out on Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas , Deion Sanders who went right before their #6 pick. Perkins did not believe in tanking so the Bucs beat Detroit in the final game of ’88 to move from #3 to 6 in that draft but who knows they may have taken Broderick over the Hall of Famers anyhow. RIP McCants, addiction is an evil beast to overcome.

  4. René Says:

    I dunno s*** about his life but hopefully he had some comfort in SB LV. Sad day. Let’s remember VJ as well…

  5. René Says:

    Steven 007 aren’t we all? At some point heading in the right direction….

  6. Pine Hills Says:

    I remember Perkins called him “my Lawrence Taylor.”
    Perkins was our second worst coach.
    Worst Buc coach hall of shame:
    Lenient Leeman Bennett
    Ray “sir Perkins sir” Perkins.
    Love Virgin-ears Smith.
    Sam the Sham Wyatt or whatever that Idiots name was.
    Dishonorable mention: Richard Wiliamson

  7. Pine Hills Says:

    If I remember right, and I probably don’t, Wiliamson took very for wych or whatever that idiots name was.
    Cuz they couldn’t get anyone else at the time.

  8. Pine Hills Says:

    I used to call him Sam the Sham

  9. SB~LV Says:

    Did he fall off the bike?

  10. Beeej Says:

    He had major knee surgery right before we drafted him, was never effective. Guy prolly hooked on pain pills

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    Sad, too young. R.I.P. Keith.

  12. Winny Testaverde Says:

    As Joe said…a potential 30 for 30…From Doug to Dungy: The Lost Decade & 1/2 Part 1…at any rate…sad to see him pass. He was interviewed on an ESPN doc about money mismanagement and athletes a few years back. He never looked “right” at DE for the Bucs. RIP sir…

  13. August 1976 Buc Says:

    R.I.P. Keith

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Very sad….so young….tormented…..RIP Keith….

  15. Wild Bill Says:

    Sad story that’s repeated way too often. Take a minority kid from very low income circumstances. Exploit his athletic skills from high school through college. Give him “social passes” vs a true education from high school through college. Reward his physical skills with a huge financial gain joining pro sports. Results are a suddenly wealthy but poorly educated and poorly prepared for a lifestyle way beyond his ability to properly manage. Exploit his physical ability until he declines due to age and injuries. Su#enly t he big dollars are gone. Not much left in savings. The cars, women and lifestyle rapidly decline. Some get good lifestyle advice and financial planning that provide a great standard of living after his career is over. But far too many sink to a declining lifestyle of substance abuse and poor choices often expoited by hangers on. This sad story repeats way too often. Most pro leagues now offer guidance and support, but the exciting life of glamor drive way too many into a post athletic life of despair.

  16. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    You stated he was a massive washout but I think the bucs were solely responsible for that. The dude was like cornelius bennet and lawrence taylor while he was at Bama; then he destroys his knee his last year at Bama and it isn’t knee surgery like today; he had major surgery on his knee. He comes down here to a horrible coach followed by Williamson top 3 worst coaches in bucs history and then gets Floyd Peters who plays him at DE…..mCcants plays in this era he is Khalil Mack and making 20 mil a season. Seedy Tampa got Keith and destroyed him, along with getting drafted by at that time the worst franchise in pro sports. RIP 52

  17. RamblingRhino Says:

    RIP McCants, I was so very excited when we drafted you, sad to see and hear your many battles past Buc life.
    Wow at 53, I am only 2 years older. Makes me appreciate the days I have left.
    Go Bucs!

  18. Mr. Underhill Says:

    [That’s not very nice. — Joe]

  19. Bobby M. Says:

    One of the biggest challenges these guys face is the loss of top tier medical care once they leave the league. Its easy to mask the aches and pains when you have the best docs, chiros, massage therapists, PTs along with access to the best medical equipment on the planet….keep in mind all of that is free.

    Once they are out of the league, they lose access to all of that…..that’s where the pill use starts to creep in. From there it spirals downward. I think the medical community is making progress with treating pain by opening up to medical marijuana and putting much more stringent controls on those pills. Hopefully that will help players in the future avoid these scenarios.

  20. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Pine hill

    You don’t give Wyche enough credit.

    Alstott, Lynch, Nickerson.. just to name a few. Don’t get me wrong… he wasn’t perfect, but certainly doesn’t deserve to be on your list of really bad coaches.

  21. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Jmarkbuc………right on without wyche the bucs DO NOT win the first super bowl PERIOD…wyche is nowhere near bennett, raheem, williamson, schiano, perkins, lovie, koetter

    I would say that wyche is top 5 behind..Arians, Gruden, Dungy, McKay & Wyche

  22. rrsrq Says:

    RIP – remember at a birthday party for Deion Sanders in Tallahassee, Deion, Keith McCants and Broderick Thomas having a good time at the Musical Moon. This was in their college days, and those were the days

  23. View from 132 Says:

    Sad story. Stories like these are exactly why the Bucs should disavow those awful uniforms and never be tempted to wear “throw backs” … just like the Rays, who wear those stupid Devil Ray uniforms from when the franchise was terrible, Tampa Bay fans somehow long for the days of bad teams with terrible coaching wasting players’ careers in dayglow colors. The Bucs 1979 team is not enough to erase years of futility in the faded orange look. RIP Keith.

  24. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    View, that 1979 team should have won the super bowl; they had the best defense in the NFL & with doug getting hurt that went down the drain; forever cannot stand the rams….i think this year might be another Rams-Bucs NFC championship and all the rest have been bad endings

  25. Stanglassman Says:

    I met Kieth in the Summer after he was drafted. He and Broderick Thomas sat right next to my brother and I at a Curtis Hixon PPV Tyson fight. We talked some college and pro sports and we met up at The hub for some drinks afterwards. Nice guys. My brother described McCants as a superior athlete but only a okay football player. See ball get ball guy. I never told Broderick but I had just named my puppy basset hound ‘Broderick’ after him.

  26. Dusthty Rhothdes Says:

    Stang….Broderick was my favorite highlight going to tampa back then….wonder how he is doing these days

  27. Bojim Says:


  28. Panthers suck! Says:

    Very sad. 😔
    Wish he would have had the right support structure when he was young.

  29. DoooshLaRue Says:

    183 pain pills per week will get ya.

  30. mark2001 Says:

    jmark…I seem to remember a couple other guys that Wyche has his hand in…Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.

    Yeah. Sam was a better coach than many gave him credit for.

    Though I do remember that stupid sign on 275 with his picture with a safari hat, with the caption something like “the adventure begins”. In the dark orange and white colors. And man, they were right about that…but more like a nightmare until the SB season.

  31. mark2001 Says:

    In fact, if Wyche had failed on that draft, much of Bucs greatest moments until last year would have been wiped out as we know it. Could Tony have built that great D without those guys? Would he have been canned within a few years of his hiring without having the promise of those guys as they developed? All I can say is, to Sam in the bye and bye, thanks Sam.

  32. Buczilla Says:

    Rest in peace Keith McCants

  33. Mike Johnson Says:

    We all have our problems..crosses we must bear in this life. Keith never truly recovered from that devastating college injury. I am careful with my words of castigating another human being without having walked in their shoes. His journey is over. Respect and condolences to the McCant’s family.