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For Bucs veteran LeSean McCoy, ‘the role has changed, but the goal hasn’t’

The six-time Pro Bowler says he has accepted his role as a mentor and backup.
 
LeSean McCoy, who posted four 1,000-yard seasons with the Eagles and two more with the Bills, enters the Super Bowl with three total playoff snaps for the Bucs.
LeSean McCoy, who posted four 1,000-yard seasons with the Eagles and two more with the Bills, enters the Super Bowl with three total playoff snaps for the Bucs. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Feb. 2, 2021

He says his nickname — a household handle in Philly for years — is passe.

“Nah, I’m way different,” said Bucs tailback LeSean McCoy, once known as “Shady” to legions. “It started when I was a baby. My mom said I was always shady, so I just carried it over.”

Also part of a prior decade are McCoy’s days as a workhorse tailback. For the second consecutive year, the six-time Pro Bowler and Eagles’ all-time leading rusher enters a Super Bowl as a glorified backup, a sideline elder statesman offering guidance, if not a periodic blow to a starter.

“And that’s the role,” said McCoy, 32. “And I accept it.”

Not that the segue from star to sub was easy.

McCoy, who posted four 1,000-yard seasons with the Eagles and two more with the Bills, enters the Super Bowl with three total playoff snaps for the Bucs, with whom he signed early last August. He entered Super Bowl 54 similarly inconspicuous as a member of the Chiefs, with whom he signed in 2019.

After totaling 646 yards in the 2019 regular season, he logged one playoff snap as Kansas City gravitated toward burly youngster Damien Williams.

“So then I was like, ‘Okay, if I’m not starting, I’m not playing, how can I affect the game?’” McCoy said. “And the best way I could do that was help the guys from my experience: knowing where the reads should go, where the ball should go, how to become a better player. And I put that in me into them.”

He just didn’t anticipate a similar behind-the-scenes role with the Bucs, at least not initially.

McCoy arrived in Tampa Bay pegged as the backup to Ronald Jones and a potential receiving target out of the backfield before the team signed Leonard Fournette. He finished the regular season with 31 yards on 10 carries and 15 receptions.

“And they look at me now as, like, insurance,” McCoy said.

“If one of the guys gets banged up, or they need a blow, they can count on me to go on and replace them and not miss a beat. And that’s cool with me, because I love them guys. They’re always giving me all these stories about how they’ve been playing the video game with me when they were in high school, watching my tapes and the highlights, so it all works together.

“And I get joy out of helping them out.”

The potential payoff: two Super Bowl rings, in what could be his final two seasons in the NFL. McCoy said Tuesday he’ll assess his future “when the time presents itself.”

“The role has changed for me, but the goal hasn’t,” he said.

“The goal’s to win a championship. I want to be a part of that, and any way I can affect the game by helping the guys in my room, just time to time, they’ll come to me to ... teach them this or help understand that, then I’ll do it — with no hesitation.”

• • •

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