Photo Courtesy of Chiefs.com
By Jeff Falk
Confident, successful and sometimes outspoken. Not everybody likes LeSean “Shady” McCoy, all the time.
But McCoy is OK with that. He likes the person he is, and he’s got to stay true to himself.
But question McCoy’s love for his hometown or his loyalty to Harrisburg, well, he has a problem with that.
“The biggest thing I want people to know is that there’s no 717 without Shady McCoy,” says McCoy. “When people mention me, I want them to be proud of me. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. I love being a role model for Harrisburg. I just love my city. Wherever I’m at, I’m bragging about Harrisburg. I just want to talk about my city,” he adds.
“It’s hard to be an athlete,” continues McCoy. “People will always have different opinions. ‘Was he a good dude, or wasn’t he?’ I could care less about those opinions. ‘But when it comes to Harrisburg, he’ll do everything he can to give back to his community.’ Some people might not like me. But the one thing people can agree upon is that I love Harrisburg.”
As McCoy has matured and grown as a person, his priorities have shifted to reflect more of where he’s from.
One of Harrisburg’s most celebrated athletes, the former Bishop McDevitt High School star is in his 11th season of playing running back in the NFL, and his first with the Kansas City Chiefs. Under head man Andy Reid, who coached him in Philadelphia in the early 2010s, the durable McCoy has been a key contributor to the Chiefs’ drive to the AFC West division title and the playoffs, this season.
During his playing time, McCoy has compiled a hall-of-fame like resume, as Philadelphia’s all-time leading rusher, a six-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s leading rusher in 2013. While the passion for the game still burns inside him, there’s only one thing that is driving McCoy at this point of his career – a Super Bowl ring.
“It’s cool for me because of Coach Reid,” says McCoy, 31. “He took a chance on me, and it’s worked out. I’ve accomplished a lot in my career, but it’s not about carries and yardage any more. When I was in Buffalo, I heard there were a lot of trade offers for me. There were five or six teams interested, so I knew I had options. I had to consider what was the best fit for my family, and I feel comfortable with Coach Reid. And you want to win.
“I think the season is going well,” adds McCoy. “Whatever I can do to help my team, I’m going to do. I think the one thing I do bring is experience. I get so many questions every day from the other guys, and it’s because I’ve been in the league for a few years. A lot of it is natural to me. I’m always willing to give extra advice.”
Following a celebrated career at Bishop McDevitt, McCoy, one of the most talented running backs in the country, attended Milford Academy in New Berlin, New York for his senior year of high school in 2006-07. After two years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a two-time All-Big East Conference first-team selection, McCoy was selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft by Philadelphia.
“I’m not sure how much longer I can play,” says McCoy. “Once I get that championship, we’ll see. I’ve accomplished a lot over my career, but the one thing I don’t have is a Super Bowl ring. I have a good resume, but for me a championship would make a difference. I don’t put a lot of thought into the short-term, but I do think about the long-term.
“I feel good physically,” adds McCoy. “I have ups and downs. I had some smaller injuries earlier in the year, but I feel good now. Every year is like that, even when I was younger. It’s a matter of keeping up on it, staying on top of it.”
Whatever mistakes McCoy may have made in the past, he has learned from them, and those experiences have fostered a heart for giving back. That altruistic spirit has manifested itself in charitable activities like local food giveaways, youth football camps, scholarships for Harrisburg-area residents, local charity softball games, hospital visits to Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center, property development in Harrisburg and the rise of McCoy’s foundation, Shades of Greatness.
“It’s really important to me,” says McCoy. “I look at a lot of the players I knew growing up who didn’t make it out. I think sometimes, ‘God, why did you pick me to be Shady McCoy?’.I want to make it better than it was when I was growing up.
“It’s always good and bad,” adds McCoy. “There are some people in Harrisburg who don’t root for me. I try to focus on the positives. I try to lead a solid life and do what’s right. I try to set a good example for younger guys coming up. People can get jealous. People believe what they hear. There are been plenty of times when I met someone and they’ve said, ‘You’re not the person who I thought you were.’”
McCoy is no different than most in that we’re all day-to-day, moment-to-moment. With an eye on the future, he focuses on the present, and when he does think about the past, it is with fond memories.
“Sports were always big,” says McCoy. “We were always competing as kids. A lot of that competition made me who I am today. Even now when I go back (to Harrisburg) and see some of the guys I hung out with, we talk about the past and the games we should’ve won.
“I’ve been a competitor all my life,” continues McCoy. “I’ve always had goals. I want to pay back by bringing that Harrisburg attitude. I’m proud of the fact that I’m from Harrisburg. I stand for that.”
Once a Harrisburg native, always a Harrisburg native.