NFL Head Coaches, and most other professional sports coaches, warn their players to avoid giving opponents “locker room material”. Ill-timed comments, unnecessary jabs at individual players end up posted on the opponent’s bulletin board as an easy (cheap) way to mentally and emotionally motivate players. Even the monikers that team units pick up, such as the Seattle Seahawks “Legion of Boom” defense this past year are designed to rally a unit and in many cases turns into inspired performances on the field. As a team motivation, this can work well, but when an individual player begins a trend, it can negatively ripple within the team. All Pro Running Back LeSean McCoy is toeing that line, using social media and the press numerous times in ways that should otherwise be left alone.
Back in 2012, a season in which the Eagles ended with a dismal 4-12 record, McCoy took to Twitter and started a verbal feud with Giants pass rusher Osi Umenyiora. This was fresh off the New York Giants’ Super Bowl win from the 2011 season. Umenyiora took the opportunity to wish McCoy a Happy Mother’s Day, and a few months later, McCoy referred to Umenyiora as a ballerina. For all the banter, the Eagles and Giants split their 2012 NFC East matches 1-1. However, with how bad the Birds season went that year, leading to the exit of Andy Reid, it begs the question of why bother. Something like this seemed relatively harmless, but again, McCoy was seen as more of an instigator on a team that didn’t necessary back up its words with its on-field play.
Fast forward to early 2013, and McCoy was again the verbal spat spotlight, this time feuding with the mother of his son. McCoy bragged about a vacation destination, while the woman took shots at his lack of paying child support, and other specific manhood-related issues. While this had no direct correlation to the Iggles or other NFL players, it was another negative mark on an amazing player. NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell preaches protecting the NFL shield, and this type of behavior doesn’t paint a star player in a great light. It paints a picture of another prima dona who gets paid a lot of money and feels like he can do as he wishes without regard for the impact to others. For McCoy, the bout with Umenyiora could be overlooked, then this bout adds a second mark on the sheet. Unfortunately for McCoy, the trend is not positive.
This all brings us to a week ago, with McCoy again commenting about another NFL Player. Former Birds Quarterback Michael Vick recently signed with the New York Jets to compete with Quarterback Geno Smith. It is an opportunity for Vick to once again compete to be the starter, after losing that job to current QB Nick Foles. McCoy felt the need to publicly back Vick, and take it so far as to say Vick was better than Smith. Whether he is or isn’t, the comments aren’t needed. Vick is with a fresh team, and Smith is coming into his second year. McCoy should focus on the Eagles, and helping his team succeed. Diverting attention to other teams doesn’t help his own.
It’s easy to sit back and evaluate situations from afar. However, with three separate instances in the last two years to base an opinion on, McCoy needs to quiet down. Spend your offseason relaxing, recharging, reconnecting with family and friends, and get yourself ready for the next season. The Birds have a challenge ahead if they want to defend their NFC East championship this season. Head Coach Chip Kelly maintains a tight ship, and all of the players need to buy in. It binds the team under a common goal – a Lombardi Trophy. Keep the drama out, and the focus in!