Shady McCoy was one of the most exciting football players of the 2010s. He led the NFL in rushing in 2013, scored 17 touchdowns in 2011, reached five straight Pro Bowls, won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2019 and 2020 (although he wasn’t really a factor on either team at that point), and was named to the Hall of Fame’s All-2010's Team. He also embodied a very cocky persona that captivated audiences.
I remember the first time I was told that McCoy would taunt his teammates by shouting “McCoy” or “Shady” as he broke defenders’ ankles while they tried to tackle him in practice. And aside from the What’s New Scooby-Doo theme song, it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard. The way he held onto the ball so loosely as he made big plays seemed so effortless that you just had to hold your head in your hands and think “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Now that Shady has retired, he’s turned to the media, appearing on numerous podcasts and network shows to offer his opinion on the NFL today. Through all these appearances, one thing is clear, LeSean McCoy still makes me put my head in my hands and think “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
It started a few months ago, when McCoy appeared on the I Am Athlete podcast alongside then-Steelers receiver Chase Claypool. On that podcast, McCoy was quoted saying, “Kenny Pickett is the truth,” then adding, “If you watched his last year in college, he was going crazy… and he [didn’t] have these players like Alabama and all these other [schools].” Of course, this was just false. It’s not that Pickett didn’t play well, but that he did play with some incredible players including 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison. McCoy wasn’t done there though. He also offered a player comp for Kenny Pickett. Who you might ask? Joe Burrow. You know, the guy that just led the Bengals to the Super Bowl. “Listen, I’ll say it like this: Joe Burrow, Kenny Pickett. I can’t see the difference,” said McCoy. Like, I understand being optimistic about a rookie, but to compare him to a top-seven, arguably top-five quarterback in the NFL before he’s ever played a snap? That’s a bit much.
Giving Shady the benefit of the doubt, he was obviously infatuated with Pickett. Both players played at Pitt and the Steelers hadn’t yet named their Week 1 starter. That came a few months later. However, McCoy’s absurd takes didn’t stop there.
On November 16, McCoy appeared on Fox Sports 1's show Speak and gave this absurd Justin Fields take.
“I don’t think [Fields] is a No. 1 quarterback.” Big yikes!
This wasn’t when Fields was struggling early in the season either. This was after three straight weeks where Fields had thrown for 441 yards and seven touchdowns with only one interception, rushed for 385 yards and four scores, posted a 108.9 passer rating, and put up 29 points on the road against the Dallas Cowboys defense (most points they’ve allowed at home all year), battled incredibly tough with the Miami Dolphins, and would’ve beaten the Detroit Lions if the Bears’ defense doesn’t allow 21 fourth-quarter points OR Cairo Santos makes his lone extra-point try in the final quarter (that would’ve sent it to overtime, but it would’ve given Fields another chance at least). To say that Fields just isn’t starter material after arguably the hottest three-game stretch we’ve seen from any quarterback this year is a travesty. McCoy worked with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes over the course of his career. You’d think he’d know what good quarterback play looks like, but clearly, if he’s putting Kenny Pickett in the same sentence as Joe Burrow and claiming that one of the best quarterbacks in the NFC this year shouldn’t be a starter, he has some dubious qualifications.
McCoy’s latest baffling take came a week ago on The Up & Adams Show with host Kay Adams. Adams didn’t even ask McCoy a question. The two were just chatting about today’s head coaches with Adams clearly building up to a question for McCoy. During this interaction, Adams referred to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as a “legend” who was turning his team around and still in the AFC East hunt. Those are all true statements. However, McCoy was confused by them.
Shady didn’t appreciate Adams referring to Belichick as a legend. When pressed about his stance, McCoy said that Belichick was merely a good coach who was lucky enough to have Brady for most of his career. “That’s bullcrap,” uttered McCoy. “He’s had Tom Brady. If you take away Tom Brady, you know what he is? He’s under .500.”
McCoy has a point there, but do we really think Brady wins six Super Bowls in New England without Belichick. Nobody makes this assessment when looking at Bill Walsh with Joe Montana, or Mike Shanahan with John Elway, or even Andy Reid with Patrick Mahomes. Having a great quarterback drastically helps your chances of winning a Super Bowl. It doesn’t guarantee it. Otherwise, Peyton Manning wouldn’t be considered a playoff choke artist. Nick Foles wouldn’t have a Super Bowl ring. Marino would’ve retired with so much jewelry on his hand that it’d make a Kay Jewelers owner jealous. Brady has never, in his career, seen his defense allow more than 42 points. Only eleven times have his opponents scored more than 35. Is that Brady’s doing? I’d argue no. While Belichick’s offenses haven’t done as well as we’d hope without Brady, he also manufactured an 11-5 season with Matt Cassel under center. He managed a 3-1 start with a young Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. He’s only under .500 because he was Cleveland’s head coach for five years. That would destroy anyone’s record.
You have to respect McCoy’s opinions. He’s been in locker rooms, been closer to the game, and experienced football far more than me or most people ever will, but seeing takes like these over and over and over, like a broken record, really makes me wonder whether or not McCoy is just messing with us. He can’t honestly believe Belichick isn’t a great coach, right? Regardless of his sincerity, I’m taking everything he says with an enormous grain of salt moving forward.