CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Carolina Panthers made it official today as they introduced their newest member to the defense in defensive tackle and 6 time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.
There are a lot of reasons McCoy chose the Panthers over the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens. The biggest reason might be the fact that he feels wanted here by not just the coaches but the players themselves.
On his visit to the Queen City last Friday, McCoy and some of the Panthers went to lunch at a vegan restaurant which was a sure sign to McCoy that this was the place to be.
“Those guys showing up and being in tune and being excited to be there means a lot,” said McCoy. “We were talking for a second and it kind of got silent and the two biggest dudes at the table, KK (Kawann Short) and Trai (Turner) was like ‘man, what’s up with this vegan? Like why are we here?’
Laughter filled the press conference room as McCoy had a big smile on his face as he told this story.
"They were like we got to get this dude so it was great and I left that lunch feeling like I can fit right in here.”
To take that a step further, Panthers players were going to Panthers general manager Marty Hurney to express their feelings on the importance of securing the services of McCoy.
“That’s what you want to hear,” said Gerald. “You know when you get there guys want you on the team and the respect they have for you and I have that same respect for them.”
Hurney and McCoy struck a one year deal with the team.
Another reason McCoy is in Carolina is his belief that this team can be a winner. In his 9 years with the Tampa Bay Bucs, he never played in the postseason and was only a part of 2 winning seasons.
“Every ounce of me feels like this team is a contender,” said McCoy. “The NFC South champs are the New Orleans Saints. They are known to have a great offense and in order to take them out, you got to have a great defense and the Carolina Panthers have been known to have a great defense. With the addition of me and all the pieces that are already here, we got a great shot.”
McCoy has traditionally been a 4/3 defensive tackle in the NFL but the Panthers defense is in the process of changing to a base 3/4 defense. That will change how McCoy lines up, but he is not the least bit worried about that.
“Being a defensive lineman requires you to be like a Swiss Army knife,” said McCoy. "You have to be able to play nose, you got to play 3, you got to play 5, you got to be able to play everything. We have the pieces to be where ever. Move guys around and just find the best match up. And when you got a guy like Luke Kuechly and a guy like Shaq Thompson behind you, they’ll make you right. So, I’m excited about that. "
One thing that McCoy feels that is getting over blown is this notion that he signed with Carolina to have the chance to take on Tampa 2 times this season. How can he say that? He realizes that the NFL is a business.
“2012, arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play this game was released by the Indianapolis Colts in Peyton Manning,” said McCoy. “My perspective on this league changed then. If you can let a person like Peyton Manning go, anybody can get released so it didn’t hurt me, it’s business. Moving on!”
While he is down playing those Tampa games right now, it will be interesting how his feeling are when the Panthers host the Bucs on week 2 on Thursday Night Football and when they take on Tampa in London in week 6.