LeSean McCoy: How NOT to handle being traded in the NFL

LeSean McCoy's conduct following being dealt by the Eagles to the Bills provides a master class on how not to handle getting traded.
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By Brady Poppinga

After hearing running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson claim why they were let go from the Philadelphia Eagles only confirms that head coach Chip Kelly made the right choice.

 “The relationship was never really great,” McCoy said. “I feel like I always respected him as a coach. I think that’s the way he runs his team. He wants the full control. You see how fast he got rid of all the good players, especially all the good black players. He got rid of them the fastest. That’s the truth. There’s a reason. … It’s hard to explain with him. But there’s a reason he got rid of all the black players — the good ones — like that.”

McCoy then tried to save face by saying, “So it’s nothing to do with Chip. I have no hatred toward him, nothing to say negative about him. When he got (to Philadelphia) I didn’t know what to expect. When he let DeSean go last year, I was like: ‘C’mon. DeSean Jackson?’ So it is what it is.”

McCoy basically called Kelly a racist, then tried to recover by saying he had no hatred or anything negative to say about him. Is he serious?  Calling somebody a racist is about as negative of a thing you can say about someone. Clearly LeSean is miffed by the fact he was traded. It's understandable McCoy is upset that he was traded from a place he called home. He believes he’s the best back in the NFL. Watching Philly trade and then replace him with DeMarco Murray for virtually the same size contract that he now has in Buffalo is something that's bound to hurt.

Players in the NFL almost always experience rejection at some point in some shape or form. But making a public claim about race when one African-American running back is replaced by another African-American running back is a different story.  

Via CrossingBroad.com, Jackson had his own assessment about Philadelphia: “Honestly, I’m further along than that. It’s been two years since I’ve been removed from the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m just excited and happy where I’m at. I don’t really want to get too caught up in what’s going on over there in Philadelphia. LeSean McCoy is one of my great friends and he’s a great running back – he’s one of the best in the league – and I look at myself as one of the best receivers in the league. So as far as being removed from there, I can’t understand why would you get rid of your best players on the team? But it’s their loss. Moving forward, the teams we’re with now are the teams that are winning, the teams that are gaining more of a respect of having them type of guys on the team.”

Just like McCoy, Jackson is wondering why Kelly would let go, in his eyes, one of the best wide receivers in the game. Jackson claims the teams they are with now are the ones that are winning. Philadelphia finished 10-6 in 2014, and I have a difficult time equating how the Washington Redskins’ 4-12 record last season is winning more. Although the Buffalo Bills (9-7) were decent last season the 2015 Bills, from head coach on down, will be very different. So it’s obvious both still harbor hard feelings toward Kelly’s decision to move forward.

And I can see why. Both believe they are the best at their respective positions and that when they touch the ball good things will happen. That’s self confidence. Nothing wrong with that at all. But if a high level of confidence isn’t held in check it can grow into self-absorption. An earlier quote by McCoy to the Philadelphia Enquirer hints at that issue, “I don't think [Chip] likes or respects the stars, I'm being honest.” In a team game like football, when your best players start referring to themselves as “stars,” that can be a time when healthy self-confidence has morphed.  

Philosophically speaking, Kelly’s offense is based on one fundamental principal — equal ball distribution. That’s why the 2013 Eagles had five players with 36 receptions or more and in 2014 had five players with 40 receptions or more. Kelly wants to distribute the ball as equally as possible to his skilled position players as to make his offense that much more difficult to defend. Defenses can’t focus on stopping one player. What can throw a wrench into that philosophy is players with a “star” mentality. There are a lot of egos to juggle in NFL locker rooms. If a coaching staff feels like yours isn't conducive to the team atmosphere they're trying to build, they often make a change. This is actually pretty common in this business.

The most disappointing thing here is that race got brought into the conversation. Racist claims against another person – teammate or coach – are dangerous waters to wade into without more to support the claim.  To make a public statement like that with no proof affects the NFL brotherhood. It's uncalled for.

It hurts to be rejected by your team, but as players we all go through it.  Locker rooms need to be unified. Unfounded claims inside the walls of an organization certainly don't unify anyone. McCoy seems thrilled now to be in Buffalo and have a new start. Maybe in the end, that's best for everyone. 

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