Gerald McCoy has been a fixture in the Tampa Bay community since he arrived in 2010 and this past year was no different. It's why he is the Buccaneers' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, given annually to a player that shows excellence not only on the field but through volunteer and charity work off of it. Each team nominates their own player and one is chosen from the pool of 32 to be the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Each nominated player will wear a patch on his uniform, showcasing him as his team's selection. It will be the Buccaneers' defensive stalwart this season and there are more than a few reasons why.
You're probably familiar with McCoy's accolades on the field. A six-time Pro Bowl selection, McCoy has been the gold standard for defensive tackles. Known for his ridiculously fast get-off, McCoy brings pressure up front before most people can blink. He has the second-most sacks of any defensive tackle since 2013. Currently, he's running a three-game streak with at least one sack and continues to be a major contributor to the defense according to his coaches. He'll be looking for his seventh-consecutive Pro Bowl nod following this season.
Off the field, McCoy might be even more impressive. His latest venture in the community is his involvement with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Social Justice Board. The Social Justice Initiative is a player-led program that aims to create real change in the Tampa Bay community and Gerald was one of the first to volunteer to serve. He participated in the program's inaugural event at the Tampa Police Citizens Training Academy, where he led a candid, and at times uncomfortable, discussion with law enforcement about issues facing society today. He also shared his testimony along with words of hope and encouragement at the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution this past Tuesday with the program.
Additionally, McCoy has various repeat efforts in place. Since 2012, he's led the entire defensive line's involvement in their "D-Line Delivers Christmas" holiday event that provides hundreds of families with holiday gifts and experiences. He's also implemented his "McCoy Family Christmas" annual event in 2013 where he and his family give back to single-parent households.
He has served as a spokesman for multiple organizations, including the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation's Cut for a Cure – for which he has personally donated over $40,000 over the years. This past year he led the charge to raising over $140,000 total at the event. He even participated in the foundation's Fashion Finds a Cure event, walking the catwalk as a model and escorting a pediatric cancer patient for multiple years. McCoy has also served as a spokesman for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, speaking at various events and fundraisers for the organization. Since its inception, he has been a spokesman for the Buccaneers' Vision Mobile, an effort to bring eye care to underserved youth through the Glazer Family Foundation. Himself a glasses-wearer, he was there for the unveiling of the Vision Mobile RV as well as when the Foundation gave out its 5,000th pair of glasses.
"I want to know that somebody's life was changed because I was drafted to the Bucs," McCoy said. "Not just because they were able to watch me play football but literally something positive happened in their life because I was in that locker room. Because I was in the cafeteria or in the community. That for me is more important than any sack or ring I can get. My goal in Tampa, I feel like God has placed me here to change lives. Honestly, that's why I truly believe I've been here so long – because my mission is not complete. So I have a lot more work to do."
McCoy is also very excited for the launch of his upcoming Patricia Diane Foundation this week. The program is in honor of his mother and aims to support single-parent households, a cornerstone cause of all Gerald's community efforts.
Gerald McCoy is absolutely synonymous with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and all the organization strives to be. He is a fierce competitor, a reliable teammate, a passionate community activist and an all-around family man. He is the perfect example of how to lead both on and off the field and commands the respect of players, coaches and community leaders alike. There's a reason he is on the side of the stadium in a giant individual mural and has his own TV spot on behalf of the Buccaneers. The organization is proud to be represented by a man like McCoy, just as the league should be proud to have him as a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. There is no better candidate to represent the NFL as a whole than Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
View Team Photographer Kyle Zedaker's best photos from the Buccaneers' Week 13 win over the Carolina Panthers.