Former NFL player’s camp aids area kidsFree Access

Former Seahawk McCoy also shares thoughts about upcoming NFL season

Anthony McCoy (right) is shown in action as a Seattle Seahawk. McCoy holds an annual football camp for children in the Central Valley and surrounding foothills. Submitted photo

Anthony McCoy (right) is shown in action as a Seattle Seahawk. McCoy holds an annual football camp for children in the Central Valley and surrounding foothills. Submitted photo

Life in the National Football League is a grind, there’s no doubt about it.

It’s one of the most brutal professional sports, but Fresno native Anthony McCoy was able to carve out six years in the league as a tight end.

McCoy played for the Seattle Seahawks and the Washington Redskins. He was a member of Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl XLVIII Champion team. He attended Bullard High School in Fresno and played under Coach Pete Carroll for the USC Trojans.

McCoy recently hosted his McCoy-Collier Football Camp in Madera for children ages 7-17 from the Central Valley and surrounding foothills.

His camp teaches fundamentals of the game and also shares training tips and positive mental approaches to the game with the young athletes. Other NFL athletes helped out at McCoy’s camp, including KJ Wright (Seattle Seahawks), Mike Morgan (Seattle Seahawks), O’Brian Schofield (Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons), Allen Bradford (Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons), Dana McLemore (San Francisco 49ers) and Tim Collier (San Francisco 49ers).

Anthony McCoy

Anthony McCoy

The camp also raises funds for “Growing Our Athletic Leaders” (GOAL), a program which gives underprivileged children access to organized sports through fundraising, equipment donation and more.

While promoting for his camp, McCoy shared with the Gazette his thoughts about the key storylines of the upcoming NFL season and provided more information about GOAL.

Surprise at Sherman decision?

One of the biggest surprises of the NFL offseason was the decision of longtime Seahawk Richard Sherman to trade in his blue jersey for the 49ers red.

Sherman, one of the top cornerbacks in the league, signed a contract as a free agent with the 49ers in the spring.

“I’m not real surprised,” claimed McCoy, a former teammate of Sherman. “If you play in a division for a long time and you’re that kind of a guy like a Richard Sherman, and you end up leaving your team, most of the time you end up on a team in the division.”

McCoy said he believes Sherman made the decision to sign with the 49ers because of the rise and potential of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

“They’ve got a good quarterback they just signed and a whole new thing going,” McCoy said. “It looks like they’re trying to build something special. The only thing is, Richard now has to pay those California taxes.”

Sherman’s move to the Bay Area stunned many NFL fans — and especially 49er fans — who remember Sherman’s outburst on national television after the Se- ahawks defeated the 49ers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

While being interviewed by sideline reporter Erin Andrews, Sherman disparaged 49er wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Ever since that moment, many 49ers fans have loathed Sherman.

McCoy, however, said Sherman was simply fired up in the moment.

“Richard is chill off the field,” McCoy said. “He’s cool, calm and collected. You catch anybody right after a big play, you’re going to get some emotions out of that. I was okay with it. That was something to get you more excited as a teammate, going into the Super Bowl. He’s a real good dude off the field, doing a lot of charity work. He just got married.”

Seahawks still a team to beat?

McCoy still follows the Seahawks, one of his former teams.

The Seahawks had a mediocre 2017 season, finishing 9-7 and second in the NFC West. They also failed to qualify for the playoffs.

For some NFL fans, it’s just the start of the Seahawks downfall.

For McCoy, however, the Seahawks are still a force to be dealt with.

“Coach (Pete) Carroll is always about the ‘next man up’ mentality,” McCoy said. “When you lose a guy, it’s about having the next guy prepared to take over the role when the first guys go down.”

McCoy acknowledged “there are a lot of new faces and you’ve got to rebuild,” but added he believes Carroll “is going to be okay this year.”

‘I’m real excited to see what he’s going to do this year and how they’re going to do,” McCoy said. “Beating Seattle at home is not an easy thing to do. There is something about Russell Wilson. When you have him at quarterback and it’s a tight game, you feel he’s going to pull through for you. He can get out of a lot of situations by using his feet.”

McCoy said he felt it will be a two team race for the NFC West title, between the Los Angeles Rams and the Seahawks.

Return of Chucky

There is plenty of excitement in the Bay Area about the return of head coach Jon Gruden to the Oakland Raiders.

Gruden coached the Raiders in the early 2000s before his coaching gig with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Gruden has been retired for the past few years, announcing football games on Monday Night Football.

“It’s not like being a player, trying to come back at an old age and getting your legs under you,” McCoy said of Gruden’s return. “But the game has changed a lot since he coached. It’s a lot more passing. … Not much of your classic two-back football. That’s one thing he’ll have to adjust to. It’s something you’ll have to wait and see. They look good on offense on paper.”

McCoy said it will be interesting to see how Gruden — who is compared to the fictional evil doll “Chucky” because of his intense personality — meshes with the “young generation.”

“He has a bunch of young guys,” McCoy said. “I think he’s going to be alright. I think the players will feed off of him because he’s an energetic guy.”

Longevity of players increasing?

The NFL seems to be changing in the sense that certain players are playing at older ages than expected.

Superstar quarterback Tom Brady is 40 years old and is still one of the top players in the game. Many other players are also playing into what would normally be their twilight years.

McCoy said he believes it is just happenstance — or luck.

“I think Tom Brady is an outlier,” McCoy said. “Those are guys who work their butts off, they eat right, they do all the right things. But you have to get extremely lucky on the field.”

McCoy added “sometimes it just happens like that for guys who are able to play as long as they do.”

“The thing about football, especially in the NFL, any given play … you step the wrong way or collide in a certain way … you just never know and you’ve got to pray every day that you can go to work and leave safely. I was blessed to get six years before an injury knocked me out.”

Thoughts on T.O.

Over the past few weeks, former wide receiver Terrell Owens has been campaigning for a return to the NFL.

Owens last played for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2010 season, before moving on to play for the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League in 2012. Owens is now 44 years old.

McCoy felt it wouldn’t be wise for Owens to return to the game.

“I think he could play a few plays here and there, but no, he’s done,” McCoy said. “I got to see him firsthand when he came and played with the Seahawks (in 2012) and tried out.”

“They brought him and Braylon Edwards in,” McCoy added. “It was a competition. He looked good for his age. But I don’t think he can go 16 games, all season long like this. Some of the cornerbacks we had (on our roster) were in the prime of their careers, and they were getting after him big time.”

McCoy said it was “surreal” to briefly have Owens as a teammate.

“When I was in eighth grade I was looking up to him,” McCoy said. “That was a good thing (to have him as a teammate), but can he play still? A full season? I don’t think so. He’s been out of the game for I don’t know how many years, and he hasn’t taken any hits. There ain’t no shape like getting in football shape.”

Over the course of his career, Owens gained a reputation as a bad teammate and a drama queen. Mc- Coy said he didn’t have a chance to get to know Owens much, but added that what matters more than Owens’ reputation was the reality that he got the job done at a high level.

“I think he’s a good teammate in the sense he gets the job done,” McCoy said. “This is a business. He comes and shows up and did his job on Sundays, he goes above and beyond. Sometimes he gets emotional. Getting in your quarterback and coaches’ faces is unacceptable. That’s the only knock I have on T.O. All the other stuff, the celebrations, that’s NFL football. It puts butts in seats.”

A worthy GOAL

McCoy elaborated on GOAL, the program he started to help disadvantaged children excel at athletics.

“GOAL’s purpose is to help out the have-nots against the haves when it comes to monetary goals, such as getting equipment or covering fees to get into a camp,” McCoy said, adding the aim is to provide “whatever they need to do to get the same opportunity as the other kids.”

He also keeps his football camp affordable, holding it for $25 per child and including a free “swag bag” for each camper. The kids also get photo opportunities and autograph sessions with the NFL players.

His camp focuses on the basics, such as first steps, hand placements, making reads and more.

“We noticed how much the kids don’t know the basics,” McCoy said. “There is too much talent in the Central Valley … there are too many kids out here that aren’t getting the opportunities. They’re doing it with raw talent. There are a plethora of things we’d like to work with them on, talk with them about so they’ll be better prepared for their season and the next level and life in general.”

McCoy said the main purpose of the camp is “all about giving back. I’ve been blessed to receive so much in my life.”

“It’s better to go and share it with your community rather than the uppity elite people,” McCoy said.

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