“Ya’ll know who’s next,” was LeSean McCoy’s closing statement last Sunday after a 30-21 win over the Houston Texans and that’s likely where a roller coaster ride of a week began for the running back, as Buffalo prepares for a trip to Philadelphia.
Since being traded by the Eagles this past off-season despite being very much in the prime of his career, McCoy hasn’t been shy about his feelings towards his former team’s head coach Chip Kelly – the man who helped finalize the deal that sent the 27-year-old back to Buffalo in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso. On Wednesday McCoy, once again, held nothing back as he fielded questions about Kelly after practice.
Earlier in the day Kelly had mentioned via a conference call with the Buffalo media that he’d love the opportunity to shake McCoy’s hand at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, which invoked a not so safe for work response from the Bills’ running back. “Listen, man, Chip can’t shake (expletive). At all. Nothing. He knows this,” McCoy said. “That’s why he said it. I know him. He’s very intelligent. I can read between the lines. Like I said, I have nothing against him. No hatred. We’re not enemies. I won’t say anything wrong to him. There’s just nothing for us to talk about.”
It’s evident this isn’t just another game for McCoy who will be making his return to the City of Brotherly Love that he used to call home, for the first time, as a member of the visiting team. He’ll be playing with a chip – no pun intended – on his shoulder come Sunday. And a big one at that. However, McCoy is also adamant that as emotional as the experience may be, he doesn’t want to make it about him. “I don’t want to make it a LeSean McCoy type of thing because we got to win this game. Knowing that I could go for 200 yards and lose like how do you feel then,” he said.
Luckily for McCoy, he’s had some teammates and even a coach to lead the charge in compartmentalizing emotions upon a homecoming – Rex Ryan had to deal with it when the Bills played the Jets in the Meadowlands a few weeks back and of course Charles Clay and Richie Incognito did it against the Dolphins, twice now. Those examples are something McCoy believes have helped him remain at least somewhat tame, in the days leading up to the game. “That has really helped me out,” McCoy said. “Knowing how I am I would have been going crazy. Kind of seeing them go through it and me being the last person. I got to be a professional.”
Still, it’s no secret that this one means ‘just a little bit more’ to McCoy in lieu of that trade that left him feeling disrespected by the franchise he had given everything for over the first six year’s of his career.
“I had to deal with the same things to a lesser degree, Rex Ryan said on Wednesday. “I never grew up there all my life like he did. So it might even be more so for him. But I know the special feelings I had going back and what that game meant. So I’m sure it’ll mean a lot”
Ryan also took time to appreciate his star running back by acknowledging that the deal “worked out pretty good for [the Bills].”
He’s absolutely right. Since overcoming a persistent hamstring injury at the beginning of the season, McCoy has reestablished himself as one of the league’s top backs with 792 rushing yards, to go along with an additional 249 receiving yards. Meanwhile in Philadelphia the RB Kelly brought in to replace McCoy, Demarco Murray, was rumored to be venting to team owner Jeffrey Lurie about his role in the offense after carrying the ball only eight times in a Week 13 win over New England. Not only that but the player that the Eagles plucked away from Buffalo in the McCoy trade, LB Kiki Alonso, missed all of October with a knee injury and has been mostly ineffective otherwise with just 21 tackles on the season.
For now it appears Buffalo got the better end of the deal, especially when considering that McCoy has ended up in a place where he’s adored by fans and is major contributor to his team’s success, while earned himself a nice pay raise (five-years, $40 million).
“Coming to a place that really wanted me and appreciated me, that always counts,” McCoy said. “The coaches and the atmosphere here, it feels good again. It feels like the NFL again.”
In many ways McCoy has moved on and accepted his new home in Buffalo as the place for him. In others, how everything went down in his forced departure from Philadelphia a mere nine months ago is still an open wound, that when poked at brings out real, uncut, sentiment from within. That’s the side of LeSean McCoy that was on display Wednesday. It’s the side that will be showcased on Sunday as well, when McCoy uses all that pent up emotion to make a statement against his former team, his former city and of course his former coach.
It’s not all sour grapes though for the seven year veteran – there are many people, even groups of people McCoy still wants to catch up with upon his return to Philadelphia.
“There is a lot of guys I do want to see, on the coaching staff, the ownership, and definitely the Eagles fans, McCoy said. “A lot of old Eagles fans that have been good to me through my years. A lot different players on that team, some guys I am anxious to see.”
He just won’t be talking to his old ball coach.
“I don’t have nothing against him, but there is nothing for us to talk about.”