In 2012, his third NFL season, Bucs DT Gerald McCoy played well enough to be selected to his first Pro Bowl. The league’s all-star game was actually played in 2013, a week before Super Bowl XLVII, but as far as McCoy is concerned it doesn’t belong in this calendar year.
McCoy’s NFL bio will always display that first Pro Bowl honor, and hopefully many more, but it has no bearing on his approach to the upcoming season. If anything, he’s determined not to take any satisfaction from it, lest it convince him that’s already arrived. On Tuesday, after the second day of Tampa Bay’s 2013 offseason workout program, he refused to let a visiting reporter refer to him as a Pro Bowler.
“No I’m not,” he corrected. “It’s 2013. I haven’t done anything. That’s my motivation. I’m not a Pro Bowler; that was last year. This year I haven’t done anything. We’re in Day Two in our workouts and right now I ‘m just a guy.”
McCoy began to emerge as one of the team’s leaders in 2012 and he insists that he’s going to take greater strides in that direction in his fourth NFL season. As such, he would like it if the entire team adopted his attitude towards the beginning of their 2013 efforts.
“We’re starting from square one,” said McCoy. “All the way back.”
The former Oklahoma standout and third overall draft pick in 2010, McCoy proved that he’s a rising star on the NFL level last fall. But that first Pro Bowl trip allowed him to mingle with and work alongside players who have made Honolulu an annual trip, and he could see what it would take to get to that next level. McCoy may not believe his Pro Bowl title should roll over into 2013, but he is definitely carrying some lessons over to the new year.
“If you look, [you see] the intensity in some of the guys’ eyes, like if you watch Drew Brees during practice, or Adrian Peterson during practice,” recalled McCoy. “You have a lot of guys who joke around, but the guys who are consistently in the Pro Bowl and consistently at the top of this league, if you watch them down there when it was walk-through, or any style of anything of football, they’re focused; they’re locked in. It was on a different level and I was able to take that from those guys.”
McCoy’s approach to his first post-Pro Bowl season seems akin to that old adage espoused by many coaches: If you’re not getting better every day, you’re getting worse. McCoy shares in the palpable optimism at One Buc Place this spring but he doesn’t think the team can get close to its goal – Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey – without a daily commitment to hard work.
“I don’t think we’re far off – six out our nine losses were by seven points or less,” he said of the Bucs’ 7-9 mark in 2012. “But that’s this league, that’s why it’s called a game of inches. That little thing can be whether you make the playoffs or not, that little thing can be whether you win the Super Bowl or not. We’re making sure right now, these first two days, and then when we come back in Thursday, we’ll make sure that little thing is getting smaller, smaller, smaller until it’s not there. And then we are where we want to be, which is in Jersey.”