Historic Scapegoat Gerald McCoy

April 16th, 2023

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We’ll never forget the red kimono.

As local media waited for players to arrive at One Buc Place on reporting day in 2017, here came Gerald McCoy, clad in sandals and a bright red robe embroidered with a dragon across the back.

McCoy smiled for the camera crews, a huge grin emanating from a guy who wears his emotions on the sleeve of his kimono. It wasn’t the first time McCoy’s outfit would cause a stir. In 2014, he arrived for training camp in a bathrobe and slippers.

He once boarded a team plane in a Santa suit. He was into fashion, he was into fun and yes, he was into football.

When McCoy announced his retirement this week, it marked a long, slow exit for a player known for his quick starts. After all, No. 93 played exactly one game in the past three seasons.

McCoy ruptured his quad during the first padded practice with Dallas in 2020. When he joined the Raiders the following season, Jon Gruden couldn’t wait to plug him into the 3-technique spot.

“This guy took over the torch from Warren Sapp and it’s a hard thing to do,” Gruden said of McCoy’s nine years as a Buccaneer. “This is one helluva player.”

No Pro Bowls for Gerald McCoy after he left Tampa.

McCoy’s string of health concerns followed him to Las Vegas as he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1. While recuperating, he was slapped with a 6-week suspension without pay for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.

He never played another down.

Health was a concern from the start. Buc fans couldn’t believe McCoy’s bad luck when he suffered a torn left biceps as a rookie in 2010, then tore his right biceps the next season.

In between all the injuries, McCoy turned out to be well worth the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, chosen right behind Ndamukong Suh. Considering Mark Dominik’s other first-round picks as Tampa Bay GM included luminaries like Mark Barron, Josh Freeman, Adrian Clayborn and Doug Martin, the selection of McCoy out of Oklahoma proved to be a righteous choice.

But as the years went on, McCoy loved the Buccaneers far more than Buc fans loved him.

It was quite a paradox: although he wasn’t Sapp and he wasn’t Suh, McCoy was named to six consecutive Pro Bowls.  Six times, his peers voted him one of the NFL’s top 100 players … including two designations as a Top-30 player.

Buc fans looking for scapegoats on perenially lousy football teams tended to narrow their focus on McCoy, dinging him for helping opponents off the ground or ridiculing his man cave filled with comic books and a life-size Batman statue.

Through all the negativity, McCoy tried to stay positive.

“Don’t listen to the naysayers and stay away from the dream killers, people who tell you that you can’t do it,” he said in a message to his detractors.

Fans remain divided, writes Ira Kaufman.

McCoy enjoyed a productive Buccaneer career before his release in 2019. He wasn’t great, but he was very good. Still, Buc fans appear evenly divided whether McCoy’s career merits consideration for the Ring of Honor.

Despite his critics, McCoy’s warmth for the franchise never wavered. After he registered 2 1/2 sacks for Carolina against Jameis Winston in London during a 37-26 triumph in 2019, McCoy was asked about the revenge factor.

“I don’t have anything bad to say about that organization,” he said of the Bucs. “They changed my life.”

McCoy was always proud to represent the Bucs, starting with that memorable bear hug he administered to Roger Goodell on the stage of the 2010 draft.

The odds are he’ll never own a gold jacket to go along with that flaming red kimono, but that’s all right with McCoy. He made his mark on this franchise and this community.

Just ask Dirk Koetter, who coached McCoy his final three seasons as a Buccaneer.

“Gerald was a heck of a player,” Koetter told me after McCoy’s retirement became official. “He was outgoing, giving and a good teammate. When you prepare to play any team in this league, you identify one or two game-wreckers. Trust me, when I was with Atlanta, we always viewed Gerald McCoy as a game-wrecker. He was very quick off the ball and very rarely would teams try to block him with just one guy. You had to know where he was at all times.”

And what he was wearing.

39 Responses to “Historic Scapegoat Gerald McCoy”

  1. lambchop Says:

    His personality on a winning team wouldn’t have mattered. But, we accepted that he was one of the leaders of this team, and we sucked. So, I think it didn’t sit well that he was cosplaying between games and yucking it up. We wanted someone to say, “Let’s get serious about winning!” Fun can be had once the winning starts. Unfortunately for him, he had to shoulder more than 1 player should cuz we had an inept front office who couldn’t pick their nose, let alone draft picks.

    But, when you think of the greats in football, nobody will think of Gerald McCoy. Instead, we’ll think of some dude who used to bring ice cream trucks to training camp. More people would sympathize with him had he always been about winning and nothing else. It would have been hard to finger point at that kind of leadership. But, there’s one thing I’ll never forget and that is him crying after being injured on the Bucs sideline. It showed that his heart was in the game and being there for his team.

    Gerald McCoy will go down as one of the most misunderstood players in franchise history. He did it his way. Good for him. It just wasn’t what we wanted to see, at the time, in a decade mired by embarrassing football.

  2. garro Says:

    Good on you Ira!
    Never liked all the McCoy bashing that went on here and elsewhere.
    Probably from people who never played any organized sports and definitely never were taught anything about sportsmanship or honor. And yes Koeter is right about the double teams. Just like Sapp and Selmon. Almost never singled.

  3. WVBuc Says:

    The public resentment gained ground when McCoy handled criticism of gameplay issues poorly. I’m not sure I would handle such criticism well when it’s on all the local airwaves & espn. The early complaints were how McCoy was unreliable game to game and frequently had his best plays in the first half of a game. When the team needed a big play it usually didn’t get one and if it did it was from someone else. Fair or otherwise, this was near concensus about McCoy for years. When he complained publicly, the public turned against him where they were previously merely frustrated with him disappearing when needed most. Injuries probably robbed him of many accolades early in his career & that might have paved a smoother end of his career.

  4. Tim Says:

    He must’ve returned his dinner.

  5. TDTB2022 Says:

    Yes a very good player. But not a Ring of Honor worthy. Great players you remember their plays that changed a game making us the winner of the game.
    With McCoy we remember him helping QBs up and sometimes apologizing for hitting them. If we retire #93, it better say SUH IN THE BACK OF THE JERSEY.

  6. Bojim Says:

    I never had a problem with him. He did his job. Dam well too.

  7. Voice of Truth Says:

    McCoy to me was just like Steve Deberg, as one old timer said “he is just good enough to get you beat”

    That was Geraldine his entire career

    1st half Tarzan, 2nd half Jane – no soup for you McCoy!

  8. Goatfarmer Says:

    What game did he ever change for the Bucs? Name a game he took over, or made a play in the 4th quarter to seal a win.


  9. Da Bucs Guy Says:

    While he was a very good pass rusher, he was a terrible run defender and actually made huge holes for running lanes. And when defensive Coach Mike Smith wanted to play more 3/4 defense and hybrid defense, McSofty complained to higher ups that SHE was not getting her pass rush attempts.

    Bottom line, good player at the expense of the overall defense.

    Not ring of honor

  10. Dooley Says:

    “What game did he ever change for the Bucs? Name a game he took over, or made a play in the 4th quarter to seal a win.”

    Bucs v. Dolphins in 2013 on MNF. McCoy sacked Tannehill late in the 4th and set Miami up for a 3rd and forever. It was their final offensive possession of the game and the Bucs first win of that putrid season. Memorable because Bucs media reported players were pleading with Schiano to let them rush downhill instead of running the repetitive twist and stunt games that worked to minimal effect. As soon as Schiano allowed it McCoy came up big on what could’ve been a Miami game tying/winning drive, we won by 3.

  11. Shakeandbaker Says:

    As the best player on the team for many years and yet hated by so much of the fan base, I have no idea why he is still a Bucs fan. If I were him I would have given a middle finger to all of them when I left and hope they would never see their team win another game. Good for him though and being better than the s@#$heads who derided him for years.

  12. DoooshLaRue Says:

    What an eloquently penned pile of poop Ira.

  13. DoooshLaRue Says:

    What an eloquently penned pile of poop Ira.

    Will there be a Durable Donnie swan song saga to follow?
    I can feel the tears building right now….

  14. mark2001 Says:

    He was a guy that not only played for the team at a probowl level at times, but also was a fan. Never threatened a holdout…or anything negative. Was he Suh? No. But that is like comparing every other Basketball player to Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, LeBron, or Kareem. Those guys were freaks. Gerald was a hardworking guy that in many ways epitomized the Bucs. Thanks Gerald for being a talented player for this organization.

  15. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Good player not great and great is what goes in roh

  16. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Meh. As The Goatfarmer said…not one noteworthy play to close out a game that I can remember…unless you count the time he bit Matt Ryan’s ankle for multiple seconds while a desperation pass fell harmlessly incomplete.

    He bilked The Glazers outta 100+ million over his career…so there’s that.

    Not a hater…just not a worshipper/impressed. I prefer the career of Will Gholston.

  17. mark2001 Says:

    Sorry guys…great player at times…always a good player. A real fan of the team. So don’t disrespect what he did in a Bucs uniform. He never had a championship quality team around him.

  18. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    The biggest fans of Gerald McCoy are the Tampa media and Gerald McCoy.

  19. Goatfarmer Says:

    Ok so like one and a half 4th quarter plays in 10 years.

    Against the 2013 Dolphins, who must have been pathetic to lose to the Glennon Bucs. And the ankle bite play against the Falcons, that’s the one I remember.

    I remember reading that JPP was going apesheet about Geraldine tapping herself out of critical moments late in games. No doubt he had something to say to Arians about why Geraldine needed to be replaced.


  20. CrackWise Says:

    As a lifelong Bucs fan, GMC stands out for his exceptional play and his willingness to be the punching bag for a disgruntled fan base.

    He kept the heat off of guys like ME, LVD, JW and insert anyone else’s name that could have been targeted during his tenure.

    Only a world class human being could of dealt with this fan base with the class that GMC did.

    Heck, we have a guy right now, that was drafted almost as high as GMC who is demanding a trade because he can’t handle the pressure of being the guy to fill a HOFers shoes.

    KUDOs to GMC, he never asked for a trade or to fill Sapps shoes. He just showed, ignored the hate and PREFORMED at a super high level for nearly a decade.

    Not sure most people our capable of doing what he did as a man, let alone on the field.

    GMC, I picked on you because I needed to express my frustration with the team. BUT it was never personal and I thank you for handling all of us Bucs fans with the UTMOST CLASS and DIGNITY.

    You don’t deserve the ROH as a player alone, IMHO. HOWEVER, I hope to see you with the team moving forward. I can see you getting in for sure someday, no doubt about it.

  21. WillieG Says:

    My biggest issue with McCoy was that he always talked about being a leader, but was always part of very undisciplined defenses. Being a leader means holding your teammates, coworkers, fellow soldiers, whatever, accountable.

    Do you think Swaggy Baker loafs on short yardage plays if he’s on the same defense as Sapp, Suh, Brooks, or Lynch? How about Vernon Haergraves, does he put in 50% effort on and off the field if he has to answer to real leaders?

    I also read somewhere (most likely here) that he freelanced a lot. Good leaders are good followers. If they have issues with the job given them, they perform the job anyway, and then take it up with their superiors later.

  22. CrackWise Says:

    WillieG you just did the very thing that makes all the GMC hate retarded.

    You can’t compare HOFers to everyone else and say they suck because they are not a HOFer as well.

    By that logic, we all suck compared to GMC.

    He did what he was asked to do to the very best of his abilities and was pretty dam good all things considered. Its not his fault THE TEAM and ORGANIZATION never matched his effort ON and OFF the field.

    Not like he was on a team full of future HOFers like those names you’re referencing.

  23. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Great article Ira. Most fans who bash him are just haters. There are more coaches who say he was a good player then there are coaches that say he wasn’t. Coaches are a lot smarter than these here commenters that hate on him. I’m glad he doesn’t care what these haters say.

  24. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Pipe down, CrackheadUnwise….

    McCoy never asked for a trade you say? Maybe because he was paid so much that no other team would come close to matching it. I also didn’t get the sense that winning was his # 1 priority…Batman gear likely was.

    All we need to know is once Arians arrived…McCoy was broomed and the Bucs didn’t bite when McCoy basically begged to come back for “free” the last year or so.

  25. ChiBuc Says:

    I truly don’t understand the hatred for this man. He did his job and he did it well. For all of you that complain about him helping others off the ground, didn’t walk around with a scowl on his face because on a losing team, or he didn’t berate teammate as a “leader”… wtf, he enjoyed his life with silly antics just like Sapp.

    With that said, he did not crush the will of opponents like Sapp. Mccoy is no Sapp and as such his name should not be next to Sapp’s in the ROH.

    Put McCoy’s name on a stair tread where 50% of fans can acknowledge and revere him, and the other 50% can walk on it while cursing him. It’s time the NFL made a move like this to honor the fans and their wants.

  26. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Good but not great player. Never really made a game changing play. Not a alpha dog. Never raised the play of those around him.

  27. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    McCoy made a shoestring sack in the 4th quarter to help us win a game – and that is the only memorable moment I can think of as a life long dedicated fan. That says it all for me. Great first step to nowhere. Left gaping holes with that awesome get-off. Never once put the d on his back, or had a killer instinct. As a comparison, look at how our defensive mindset changed the moment Suh was walked in to One Buc Palace. We instantly became respected and feared. “Sorry Ben” is what McCoy will be remembered by. Nothing personal against him as I’m sure he is a fantastic person and family man, but he lacked what we sorely needed – attitude!

  28. Buc1987 Says:

    My take on McCoy has always been he’s easily forgotten unless the TB media bring him up.

    Nothing’s changed.

  29. CrackWise Says:


    I love that idea, give him his just due by dedicating a stairwell to him at the stadium. That would be super cool and something GMC could play to for the rest of his life.

    I like it, keeping him around and honoring him will be a great thing for the franchise and fans!

    He can be both the villain and the hero of the dark day. LOL

  30. Mike Johnson Says:

    McCoy was a very good player for u. Many Buc fans are haters, Just like they hate Todd Bowles for no reason at all. We are great at finding scapegoats, labeling them, and writing bad comments. Seems like its become a part of Buc nation.

  31. WillieG Says:

    Crack Wise. Pick ANY good leader to compare him to. It doesn’t have to be a Hall of Famer. Suh. Shelton Quarles. Brad Johnson. Whoever demonstrated leadership skills in the past most likely held other players accountable. You don’t have to be a HoFer to lead.

    My point was simply if you’re going to talk about being a leader, make sure you’re actually LEADING. If he had kept his mouth shut about his leadership role, I wouldn’t be annoyed by him.

  32. ChiBuc Says:

    Willie, sometimes young men say things they don’t know how to live up to or simply should not have said…even great leaders. I feel the ROH litmus should be dominance at your position to a pt where you take over games or lifetime team stats, GMC never really did either. He was solid in play and character. I just think it is unfair to judge him by his comic book collection or the fact that he was saddle with bad teams.

  33. Vlad The Impaler Says:

    So Geraldine gets in the ring for being a nice person?

    Amazing the excuses made for the guy.
    He was the highest paid player.
    He was the “leader”.
    The results show that not only did he NOT raise the play of those around him but he set a terrible example in coming out of games at critical moments, and his diatribes including one about “winning isn’t everything”.

    Compare that to Brady…..LOL…..

    Put her in the ring….just please keep that big meanie, name-caller Jon Gruden out.

  34. TonySoprano Says:

    The problem is we paid McCoy to be the all-star, cornerstone player of the organization. He was good, he wasn’t great. While it’s not his fault the front office didn’t put better talent around him, he gladly took paychecks usually saved for true game-changers and didn’t live up to that investment.

  35. Bucc my life Says:

    Suh had JPP and Barrett.
    Sapp had Rice, and 3 other HoF’ers.
    McCoy had….Daquan Bowers?

    Put a talented team (and competent coaching) around him and his numbers and game winning plays go way up. Easy to double team a d-lines biggest threat when theres no one else coming.

    Dude played through countless injuries and gave this ungrateful fanbase his best for years. Who cares if he helped somebody up after he hit him – it has 0 impact on the outcome of the game. If anything, Suh was kinda dirty/classless early in his career.

    McCoy haters really come accross as wanna be tough guys. Sorry he wasnt someone you could live vicariously through. Just slap another punisher skull on the back of your truck and hope we draft someone who makes mean faces this year. Thats apparently what makes a great d-lineman.

  36. stpetebucfan Says:

    I agree with Bucc my life. McCoy had two problems. First he played in the shadow of one of the greatest Bucs of all time Warren Sapp who himself played on an SB defense. As BML points out the second part of McCoy’s problem was he played on crappy teams with questionable QB’s and offenses in addition to that lack of defensive help.

    One of the sad things in sports is when a very talented athlete ends up stuck on really crappy team.

  37. garro Says:

    Some here who will complain if we win the Superbowl in overtime.
    Should have done it in regulation! You know who you are 🙂

    Only Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks (11) and Warren Sapp (seven) have more Pro Bowl selections in team history, while only Sapp, Simeon Rice and Lee Roy Selmon had more sacks.

    No ring of Honor?

    BTW I don’t think he ever did anything to embarrass his team. Crab legs anyone?

  38. Oneilbuc Says:

    This is the only fan base that hate and bash all of their former players!! This is why I’ve stopped commenting on here so much.

  39. Jon Grudin Says:

    I’ll have an order of onion rings.