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Gerald McCoy’s storybook ending? Playing in Super Bowl 55

The former Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle is a free agent but would love to finish his career at Raymond James Stadium
Former Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a free agent after one season in Carolina. [TIM IRELAND | AP]

TAMPA — Gerald McCoy is a free agent after playing one season in Carolina. He’d like to finish his career in Tampa — not necessarily with the Bucs — just playing in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium.

“I had a buddy tell me the other day, ‘What a storybook ending to a career, man, if you were able to go to a team, play well enough to make it to a Super Bowl in Tampa and won it? Why else would you keep playing?’ ” McCoy said on the Super Bowl LV podcast. “If that’s not a way to end a story. And I was like, I know me. If I was able to win a Super Bowl in Tampa, I’m probably still going to play. I’ll know when I’m done and I’m not done. But that would be great. You know why? Because most people go to a city, stay far off, some hotel. Man, I’m going home. Go sleep in my own bed. See my kids. Walk my dogs. All right, I’ve got to go back to the hotel now. That would be excellent.”

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McCoy had 5 sacks and 37 tackles last season after signing a one-year, $8-million contract with the Panthers.

He’ll be 32 when he enters his 11th season and plans to play in 2020. But McCoy has continued to make Tampa Bay home and says he plans to retire as a Buccaneer.

"I’m from Oklahoma and I was born and raised there, but I really became a man in the city of Tampa,'' McCoy said. "So Tampa watched me grow up. I owe a lot to this city and I’m always going to have love for this city. That ain’t going nowhere.

“Anybody who’s seen me this offseason in Tampa, if you’ve caught me in the morning time when I’m getting ready to train — I probably shouldn’t say this but I don’t really care because I control what I want to control — I still wear my Tampa gear to work out. I signed a one-year deal with Carolina. So technically, I’m a free agent so I can wear what I want so I still work out in m Tampa gear. It’s no hard feelings. I’m always going to be a Buccaneer regardless of how people feel. You can’t take that from me because of the time I put in and how I went about it and I’m always going to feel like I’m a Buccaneer.”

McCoy is a six-time Pro Bowl player with 59.5 career sacks. "I don’t have a lot of time left,'' he said.

Unfortunately, despite all his individual accomplishments, he has only been part of two teams with winning records. What’s even more anguishing for McCoy is that he has never been on a team that reached the postseason.

"It’s rare. You have so many greats, even Hall of Famers, that never won a ring but experienced the postseason,'' McCoy said. “Not wearing a ring is not going to kill me. Obviously, why else do you play the game except to bring that trophy home? But just to experience the postseason. I don’t know what it’s like to prepare for an extra game. I don’t know what it’s like to have a bye week before you have to prepare for it. I think I’ve mastered the day after the last game of the season. I think I’ve got it down pat. No matter whose locker room I’m in, I’ve got that down pat. Exit interviews, I know how to finesse the line to be the first to talk to the coaches. I’ve got that down pat. I want to know what it’s like to say, you know what? After that clock ticks zero in Week 17, this ain’t it. I’ve got to come to work tomorrow, not just to clean my locker out, but to get ready for a game. I just want to experience it.”

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McCoy said following his season at Carolina, players like Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Christian McCaffrey asked for his jersey.

“We want a Tampa jersey. So anybody that requested a jersey, even this year, they said ‘G, let me get a jersey. I don’t want a Carolina jersey,’ ” McCoy said.