Gerald McCoy Says NFL, Goodell ‘Handcuff’ Players by Limiting Expression
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy joined the growing list of NFL players speaking out against commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s repression of personality and player freedom. Players across the league, McCoy included, will wear custom cleats for their favorite charities this Sunday; however, McCoy and others hold that it’s a shame they cannot do things like this more often.
“We’ve got handcuffs on,” said McCoy. “I don’t mind saying that because that’s what I believe—the NFL is putting handcuffs on us and not letting us express ourselves. Guys get to express themselves and show what’s in their heart and what means a lot to them. We don’t get a chance to express ourselves much. That’s why there [are] a lot of fines going on, a lot of flags going on.”
McCoy will wear cleats honoring single mothers this week for the league’s “My Cause, My Cleats” program. The problem is, the NFL doesn’t allow players to support causes they feel strongly about more often. Players aren’t trying to wear shirts with profanity or cleats that offend half the country (I mean, some may, but stopping that is fine). They’re instead trying to support worthy causes, show unity with their communities (i.e. the Dallas Cowboys trying to honor the Dallas Police), and improve the image of the league overall.
Alas, it’s not okay. Nor are the players’ celebrations in the end zone. Nor anything else, really.
“It’s not like anybody is flipping the bird to the fans or anything like that—guys are dancing maybe. It’s just excitement from making a play. Guys are not cursing out reporters or anything. It takes the fun out of the game. You don’t know what you can and can’t do anymore. For them to give us an opportunity to express ourselves this week on our cleats is great.”
I hope that moving forward, the league will consider more opportunities like this for the players to express themselves and support their favorite causes. Unfortunately, a step out of line will cost McCoy a couple grand moving forward.