LeSean McCoy has just one regret about his 12-year NFL career.
He wishes his time in Philly lasted longer.
“That’s one thing that I always regret,” McCoy said on Friday as he officially retired as a member of the Eagles. “That I should have been an Eagle for my career and probably the majority of my prime years.”
The Eagles (well, Chip Kelly) unceremoniously and shockingly traded McCoy away to Buffalo after the 2014 season. And while he went on to make three more Pro Bowls as a Bill and then won Super Bowls with Kansas City and Tampa Bay, his heart always remained in Philadelphia.
When it came time to retire, it was a no-brainer that he would do it as an Eagle.
“Just when I reflect on my career, I will always be an Eagle,” he said. “First place to take a shot on me, give me a chance. First place I fell in love with in the NFL. It was only right. This is home for me.”
McCoy, 33, will be honored after the first quarter at the Linc on Sunday. It will be extra special because Andy Reid will be in the house as the head coach of the Chiefs.
A tearful McCoy on Friday morning fondly remembered the phone call from Reid back in 2009, telling McCoy the Eagles were drafting him in the second round. It’s a moment he still thinks about often.
“It changed my life and my family’s life forever,” McCoy said.
Over the next six seasons, McCoy rushed for 6,792 yards and scored 54 total touchdowns. He’s the all-time leading rusher in Eagles history and considered by many to be the greatest Eagles running back ever.
McCoy eventually grew fond of the folks and fans in Buffalo but he never got over being traded away from Philly for linebacker Kiko Alonso. On Friday as he thanked Eagles GM Howie Roseman, McCoy even mentioned that he and Roseman were trying to get him traded back to Philly following the departure of Kelly. That never happened.
Instead, McCoy made three of his six Pro Bowls as a Buffalo Bill. McCoy said he thinks about his buddy Larry Fitzgerald and how Fitzgerald will always be associated with the Arizona Cardinals. McCoy regrets that he didn’t spend those seasons in Philly and regrets that he wasn’t a part of the Super Bowl champion team in 2017.
But even after McCoy left, the Eagles found ways to honor him. No one has worn the No. 25 since his departure in 2014. When asked about that, Shady smiled and said, “It means a lot. We gotta keep it like that, though.”
Over the years, the topic of Philadelphia as sports town has become a lightning rod. Some players seem to get it. Some don’t.
Shady got it. He still gets it.
“Philly fans, they’re different type of fans,” he said. “And I think growing up in Harrisburg, being in the same conditions, I felt comfortable here. If things are going good, they’re on you, they love you. Things are going bad, they’re on you. I like that. I like a challenge.
“If we’re not playing up to the level we should be, you’ll hear about it. You’ll hear about it on the radio, you’ll hear about it in person. My dad would hear about it, he’ll be texting me. I loved it.”
McCoy won’t be eligible for the Hall of Fame for another five years but he certainly put together a resume worthy of discussion.
He was a six-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, rushed for over 11,000 yards and finished with exactly 15,000 scrimmage yards and was a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s.
“I think I deserve to be there,” McCoy said about the Hall of Fame. “I truly believe that, but I can’t control it. Hopefully I get a chance to be a Hall of Famer. That would be amazing.”
But there will be five years and probably more to debate McCoy’s Hall of Fame candidacy. What’s not in question is his greatness with the Eagles.
And how loud the building will be on Sunday when he’s honored in front of the fans in Philly.
“It’s going to be fun. Lot of crazy fans at the Linc,” McCoy said. “I expect a good game, a competitive game, hopefully the Eagles will bring it home. But it’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to be a part of it."
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