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Gerald McCoy cares too much about what you think of him

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) celebrates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) on third down during the second half of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) celebrates after sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) on third down during the second half of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Published Jul. 24, 2017

Gerald McCoy is right. We are going to miss him when he's gone.

He's a good guy and a heck of a football player.

What we won't miss? Moments like Monday when we are reminded, once again, that his skin is too thin for a player this good.

In a Twitter rant, McCoy talked about not being appreciated, followed by a veiled threat of leaving town.

"No more being quiet,'' McCoy wrote, while apparently still on vacation. "I'm done holding my tongue. Believe that!!''

Here's what you should believe: McCoy spends too much time worrying about what other people think.

In this case, it isn't even clear who he was talking about.

Was it former teammate Ronde Barber, who suggested in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times that maybe McCoy doesn't have the personality to be one of the baddest players on the team?

Was he hurt by Twitter trolls who are constantly knocking him?

Was he upset that, for the millionth time, he was reminded that he is not and will never be Warren Sapp, as if there will ever be another Sapp?

Whoever his target, McCoy needs to know that this is a bad look and one that has become all too familiar.

He comes off like a diva, a drama king, an attention hound. He looks like someone searching for sympathy and begging for approval. The fact that McCoy went on his temper tantrum just as HBO's Hard Knocks is about to turn on its cameras doesn't feel like a coincidence.

Then again, none of this is new.

It just feels as if there's always something with McCoy. It's a running off-field soap opera. There's always something going on behind the scenes that overshadows all the wonderful things he does on the field.

Is it his team or Jameis Winston's? That became a controversy a while back, right?

Is he soft because he helps up opposing players?

Is he worth all that money?

All of it silly and not worth McCoy's time or energy. Yet these mini-controversies start in newspapers and blogs and talk radio and usually end with McCoy getting his football pants wadded in a bunch and lashing out.

Or how about last spring?

McCoy, unprovoked, went on a long speech about how he hasn't been a good enough leader. He talked about how three guys pulled him aside at the Pro Bowl and told him so. He talked about how — as if seven seasons in the NFL wasn't enough — those few minutes in Orlando changed him. He talked and talked and talked.

Lots of talking. No playing. Just talk. Yet, everyone walked away acting as if McCoy made some big stride of a football player without a playing a single down.

While his honesty is appreciated, you couldn't help but wonder if the point of McCoy's speech was to make himself look better. And, more so, a push back at his critics even though he doesn't have as many critics as he thinks.

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Yes, he needs to keep getting better. No, he will never get the credit until the team has playoff success.

But no one thinks he's a lousy football player. No one wants him booted out of Tampa Bay. He has played well and has played hurt.

On the list of reasons of why the Bucs haven't been good over the past decade, McCoy is near the bottom if he's even on the list at all.

One could argue that he drums up this supposed slights for motivation, to give him a chip on his shoulder.

But it feels as if he really is bothered when anyone — and I mean anyone — speaks about him in less-than-glowing terms.

He needs to realize that there are going to be haters, that criticism comes with the territory. He can't control that.

But he can control how he reacts to that criticism and addressing is just not worth it.

This off-the-field drama needs to stop.

McCoy is a leader on the Bucs. He is entertaining. He is smart. He is a good quote. We are interested in his thoughts on the team, the league and the game. In media circles, he's known as a "go-to'' guy.

Here's hoping he keeps being that guy, but he needs to ignore his critics.

McCoy needs to simply do what he does best: play the game.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones

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