Gerald McCoy did not play dodge ball on Wednesday at the Pro Bowl. McCoy enjoyed the game as a child, and probably wreaked a little havoc on the court, but when he looked around at the world-class athletes assembled around him at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, he thought better of an adult cameo in that classic childhood game.
"Von Miller was a little too excited to play dodge ball," said McCoy, "so I'm going to stay out of his way."
McCoy was laughing as he said this, befitting the relaxed atmosphere at the Pro Bowl. He certainly didn't mind the idea of some of the NFL's best flinging big rubber balls at each other. Furthermore, McCoy did take part in a number of other activities that, like dodge ball, was part of the NFL's new "Pro Bowl Skills Showdown." His teammate with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and on the NFC roster, wide receiver Mike Evans, competed in the challenge as well.
It's been a decade since the NFL included a skills challenge for the all-stars at the Pro Bowl, but McCoy still remembers the previous version well. He claims to still have a VHS copy of Buccaneer great Warren Sapp and longtime Viking John Randle – both now Hall of Famers – squaring off in a Pro Bowl skills battle. He's wanted to follow in their footsteps ever since, so Wednesday's competition checked off another one of his boxes.
"I remember watching Warren Sapp and John Randle compete in that, so having an opportunity to do it myself [was fun]," said McCoy. "I've done pretty much everything I set out to do as a kid, living my dream…playoffs are next, and then the ultimate goal. So I've got a few more things to do."
The results of the Skills Showdown will air on Thursday night on ESPN at 7:00 p.m. ET. Among the other activities were a "Power Relay Challenge," a precision passing event and several challenges to determine who had the best hands. That latter category included footballs dropped from drones from up to 120 feet in the air. McCoy couldn't reveal how well the two Buccaneer representatives had done – you have to tune in on Thursday night to find out – but he thinks Tampa Bay fans will be pleased.
"It was fun," he said. "Two Bucs were involved, did our part. We'll see what happens, but I think both guys, we did fairly well. I think we represented the Bucs fairly well in the skills challenge and it was a lot of fun."
McCoy came back to that last word quite often after NFC field sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. As always, Pro Bowl practices are loose and relaxed, with players moving at about three-quarters speed. There's plenty of goofing around, and some sights you would never see during a real NFL team practice.
WATCH: ONE-ON-ONE WITH MIKE EVANS
"We've seen a lot," said McCoy. "We've seen [Dallas running back] Ezekiel Elliott playing defensive end, [Seattle defensive end] Mike Bennett playing running back, [Washington offensive tackle] Trent Williams playing defensive end, [Minnesota defensive end] Everson Griffen playing offensive tackle. So I think, needless to say, it's an all-star game. Guys are out here having fun."
Just enjoy it, man. Guys were asking, 'Do we gotta wear cleats to practice?' No, just enjoy it. This is the best of the best in the NFL, they're allowing us to do this. They're not going to do anything to risk us getting hurt.
Just enjoy it and have fun. If you win, if you lose, whatever. Just have a good time.
Power medley – lifting a wall, pulling, pushing, 40-yard dash, relay, drone drop, passing and catching, dodgeball