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AVENTURA, Fla. — LeSean McCoy is one of the biggest stars at Super Bowl LIV, and a bit player for the team he’s playing for.
It’s ironic: McCoy finally got to the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs at a point in which he’s barely playing anymore. Since the start of November, McCoy has 32 carries for 103 yards. There were days with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills in which 30 carries in a game wasn’t that big of a deal. McCoy has played one snap in the playoffs this season and didn’t touch the ball. He was inactive in the AFC championship game due to the flu.
McCoy doesn’t seem bothered by the fact that his playing time in Super Bowl LIV will likely be limited, at best. He’s happy to just be in a Super Bowl.
“I’ve put up numbers and done well, but big stuff like a Super Bowl champion? There’s some great, great players that have played this game, in all sports, that haven’t won a championship.” McCoy said Wednesday.
McCoy has plenty of yards and touchdowns — a staggering amount that makes for a pretty good Hall of Fame case — and a bunch of money too, but experiencing a Super Bowl had always eluded him.
“I think of all the success I’ve had in my career,” McCoy said. “But I’ve never had anything like this.”
LeSean McCoy’s first playoff win was this season
It’s a bit surprising that McCoy had never even enjoyed a playoff win before this season.
McCoy had a reasonable argument as the best skill position player of the 2010s, at least in terms of raw numbers. McCoy had 13,923 yards from scrimmage over the decade, most of any NFL player. Julio Jones was second with 12,243. McCoy was the only position player to score more than 500 points in the 2010s. He had 514. He led the NFL with 10,434 rushing yards in the 2010s, the only player with 10,000 rushing yards in the decade. Only two other players (Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson) had more than 8,000.
But he was 0-4 in playoff games before this season.
“This is something I’ve never done,” McCoy said. “I’ve never been a Super Bowl champ. I never won a playoff game. I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
McCoy was cut by the Bills before the season, and his old Eagles coach Andy Reid came calling. The Chiefs already had capable running backs. Veteran Damien Williams finished last season strong, rookie Darwin Thompson looked good in the preseason and Darrel Williams was a solid veteran holdover. But McCoy signed up. His role never developed beyond one of a role player. McCoy didn’t reach 50 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps in any game and never logged more than 12 carries. Injuries and illness have been a reason his role hasn’t expanded, but he was clearly never going to be the workhorse back he was earlier in his career.
And at this point in McCoy’s career, that was OK.
“They’ve been going with the hot hand, which makes sense this late in the year,” McCoy said. “So it’s definitely a different role, but I try to be effective anyway possible. If that’s a few plays I get, if that’s mentoring the younger guys, setting an example for them in the classroom, I’m here to win.”
Damien Williams said it’s not unusual in running backs meetings for McCoy to ask to rewind the film so he can offer pointers as he sees them. If McCoy is bothered at all by his lack of touches, he’s not showing it.
“He’s still enjoying it,” Williams said. “He feels like a first- or second-year guy with his energy. But as far as mentally, he’s been around a long time so he does a lot of teaching, the little things he sees. It’s just good to have him in the room.”
McCoy appreciates the moment
Risers at Super Bowl media availability are reserved for stars. The biggest names on each team get a riser for the 45-minute session, while everyone else sits at tables. McCoy, who has been on the field for one snap since Dec. 15, got a riser on Wednesday.
He’s still one of the biggest stars in the league, even if you might not see him much on Sunday.
“Being in the NFL as long as he’s been in, having all the yards and touchdowns he has, to reach this moment you can tell how special it is to him,” Williams said. “You can go through this league and not see a Super Bowl at all. He’s really appreciating the moment and making sure everybody else is too.”
McCoy probably doesn’t have much time left in the NFL. He’s going to be 32 years old next season, having played much longer than most NFL running backs already. Whether he’s back for next season and beyond or if this is it, he’s enjoying the moment. It took him a long time to get here.
“To say I want the ball 25 times or this or that, I’m just blessed to be here, to have an opportunity to play him this game,” McCoy said. “You can say bittersweet, but I look at it as a blessing, honestly.
“Nothing is guaranteed. I look at the Kobe Bryant incident, and it hurts. As ballplayers, we look at life as how many touchdowns I get or what happens in sports, but life is so much bigger than that. It’s something to put it in perspective. This is a moment and a memory I’ll have the rest of my life.”
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