TAMPA – As he proved yet again on the day this week that he reported to training camp wearing a red kimono (video of which can be seen here), Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy willingly accepts the dare to be different.
He also embraces the challenge of being a difference maker on the football field, and while some obviously don’t believe he makes as much of a difference as he should, McCoy’s five straight Pro Bowl nods suggest his peers see him as a difference maker.
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said as much on the opening day of camp workouts on Friday, but McCoy never has been one to rest on his laurels. He says every year is an audition and that is ultimate goal is to become the biggest difference maker of all time at his position.
“I just try and reinvent myself every year, and it’s hard to do that at this position year in and year out, but I do have a parameter,’’ McCoy said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever said this, maybe I have, but 99 (Warren Sapp) is my parameter.
“Six All-Pros, seven-straight Pro Bowls – all of this was in a row. He played 13 years. So how long does Gerald want to play? Well, 99 is the parameter because that’s my mentor. So, 13 years. I’ve got to hit 13. And seven Pro Bowls. I’m trying to hit seven.
“Six All-Pros? I’m trying to hit six All-Pros. All his sack numbers – that’s where I’m trying to get to. (Sapp) always teaches me to chase the ghosts of the game, so you always have to know who came before you to get to where you want to get.
“He is one of (only) five first-ballot D-tackle Hall-of-Famers, so why wouldn’t you look up to him? Why wouldn’t he be a parameter, you know what I’m saying? So, I just keep trying to step it up every year.’’
For those keeping score at home, McCoy is actually starting to close in on some of those incredible umbers Sapp posted. He needs only two more Pro Bowl appearances to match Sapp and with four All-Pro nods, he only needs three more of those to match him.
As for sacks, McCoy has 42. Sapp had 96.5. If McCoy keeps producing at the rate he has his first seven years in the league he may actually match Sapp’s number there as well. Of course, he still won’t measure up to Sapp in the eyes of many even if he does.
Unless, of course, he can get the Bucs to playoffs and help them win a Super Bowl. That may not even earn McCoy the respect he deserves but doesn’t always get but it will prove that he has indeed been a difference maker, and that is what McCoy’s true goal is.
“You can’t get to the ultimate goal unless you get to the tournament,’’ McCoy said.