Gerald McCoy lone Bucs player named to Pro Bowl
Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy visited Hawaii for the first time during the past offseason and, upon departing, his fiancé offered some prophetic words.
“She told me, ‘Baby, next time we come back, we’re coming for free,’” McCoy recounted. “I said, ‘All right, that’s cool.’”
That statement became a reality tonight when McCoy was named to his first Pro Bowl, the lone member of the Buccaneers selected to the NFC team for the NFL’s all-star showcase.
It’s a culmination of a lot of work after two years of frustrations related to McCoy’s consecutive season-ending injuries in 2010 and 2011. The No. 3 pick in the 2010 draft, McCoy couldn’t live up to the potential while on the sidelines for much of the past two seasons.
But he bounced back in 2012, playing his first complete season (if he plays Sunday in Atlanta, as expected) and having a significant impact on the Bucs’ top-ranked rushing defense.
“I just wanted to play a full season,” McCoy said. “This is definitely a gift from God. God has outdone himself with this.
“My goal was to be my best for my team, but by doing that I was able to accomplish that and show people that I can play a little football. But, really, my goal this season was to be my best for my teammates.”
McCoy might not be alone in Honolulu for the Jan. 27 game. Teammates Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin and Ronde Barber were named alternates to the game, with Jackson and Martin considered first alternates. Numerous players opt out of the game every year because of injuries or because their teams advanced to the Super Bowl, which now is played a week after the Pro Bowl.
Jackson and Martin were both close calls, but were edged out by others at their respective positions.
For McCoy, the selection to the Pro Bowl is hardly the end of what he can personally achieve, he said.
“Much more,” is coming, McCoy said. “This is just the beginning of what I plan to do.”
McCoy has a career-high five sacks and 15 tackles for losses, but more than he has created a consistent disruption in opponents’ backfields. While one-third of the vote is taken from fans, the other two thirds come from players and coaches who offer a more accurate assessment because they compete and coach against other players.
“It’s a great honor that my peers see me in that light,” McCoy said. “I’m really at a loss for words because I didn’t expect anything like this. But apparently I’ve done something to where my peers think I’m worthy of being in this game.”