Former Bucs GM Rich McKay humbled to accept dad's honor
The Bucs had an unlikely visitor at One Buc Place today.
Former general manager Rich McKay, who left the club under less than ideal circumstances in 2004 to join the Falcons, returned to the team facility for the first time to appear at a press conference in advance of his late father's Ring of Honor induction.
The son of the Buccaneers' first coach, John McKay, Rich is the president of the Falcons and served the Bucs' general manager for nine years.
But despite his inglorious exit from Tampa, Rich returned for a most memorable occasion, a chance to call attention to his father's legacy of establishing professional football in Tampa Bay. He will always be known for his four national championships at USC, but John McKay is responsible for much of this franchise's success, too.
"I truly want to say thank you on behalf of the coach," Rich McKay said. "I don't talk much about my dad this way, but the son of a coal miner ends up being in this stadium on the wall and in the (Los Angeles) Coliseum, so it's a really great achievement for him."
The beginning of his tenure was quite difficult, with the Bucs getting off to their infamous 0-26 start. But that was followed by three playoffs appearances in four seasons between 1979 and 1982.
"(The start) was tough on everybody," Rich McKay said. "It was tough on the community. It was tough on the family. It was not a fun time. But I think that's what made the next couple years so much more special."
His son recalled how optimistic his father was upon taking the job and preparing to start the inaugural season. Suffice to say that outlook would change a bit.
"The whole theory was, 'Hey, I can compete with these guys and win pretty quickly,' " Rich said. "I think after about three weeks it was, 'This is going to take a little longer.' "
McKay, who died in 2001, will be the second inductee to the club's Ring of Honor. Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was honored last season. This year's ceremony will occur on Dec. 5 in a home game against the Falcons, allowing Rich to attend.
Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer, who opened the press conference by addressing McKay's legacy said, "John's legacy will forever be felt in Tampa. He led this franchise from the very beginning.