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Gerald McCoy suffers season-ending injury, gets released, but knows identity isn't in football

From the outside looking in, it would appear as if it hasn’t been a good week for six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. He ruptured his right quadriceps tendon in practice on Monday, which led to season-ending surgery on Tuesday, the same day the Dallas Cowboys decided to release him. He had just signed as a free agent with the team in March, after spending 2019 with Carolina and the previous nine years with Tampa Bay, the team that took him third overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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According to ESPN, McCoy can eventually re-sign with the Cowboys, but under terms of a new contract. An injury waiver was included in the contract he signed in March, acknowledging chronic tendinitis in his right knee/quadriceps.

But if you listen to McCoy, he’s in good spirits. Before his surgery on Tuesday, the 32-year-old posted a video on Instagram to tell everyone he’s still smiling. In the caption he wrote, “Never been afraid of a little adversity. Life comes with many trials and tribulations. But the Bible tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because it builds perseverance. I’m getting stronger guys, that’s all. This is a blessing in disguise and I’m gonna approach [it] as such.”

After the surgery and learning of his release, McCoy remained upbeat. In another Instagram video, he thanked everyone for their prayers and then explained that he doesn’t find his identity in football.

“I know y’all like, ‘How’s he smiling with everything that just happened?’ Listen, don’t worry about that,” he said. “This is what I always try to tell people: You gotta find out who you are and what your true identity is. Until you find what your true identity is, you’re going to struggle. Because if your identity lies in what you do, and it doesn’t go well with what you do, you’re going to struggle. So find what your true identity is.

“Football is what I do, it’s not who I am. Yes, I love it. Am I disappointed [after] how hard I worked this offseason? Of course I am. But it’s not the end of the world, man. Remember this: Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”

In the caption to go along with the video, McCoy counted his blessings and thanked God.

“I am beyond blessed right now man,” he wrote. “First things first, I woke up this morning. What can be a better blessing than that? Secondly I had to go under to have surgery and I woke up from that. Another blessing!! Now I’m in recovery mode … Thank you God for this great opportunity to get better!! Once again I appreciate all your prayers, please keep them coming!”

McCoy describes himself on Twitter as a “Christ Following, hard working, family loving, perfectionist.” In April, he told The Players’ Tribune that he was using his newfound downtime during the COVID pandemic to grow in his walk with Christ.

“I’ve taken this time to dive deeper into my faith and get to know the Lord more, build my relationship more, and even get to know my kids more. I honestly believe sometimes God has to say, ‘Hey, I need y’all to listen. Take a second, sit back and fix it,'” he said.

McCoy, unfortunately, will now have even more time away from football, but he’ll use it to become better. And he aims to make others better too. In a second Instagram video posted after his surgery on Tuesday, McCoy said he still plans to follow up on a vow he made to Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy.

“I’m going to continue to mentor these young boys,” McCoy said. “Only thing is, I can’t go in the building and do it. But I have these guys’ numbers.”

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