I’m going to head out to One Buccaneer Place in a little bit for the news conference the Bucs are holding to officially announce John McKay as this year’s inductee into the team’s Ring of Honor.
I’m looking forward to a history lesson of sorts. McKay was Tampa Bay’s first coach, leaving a dynasty at Southern California to take over an expansion team. He coached Doug Williams and Lee Roy Selmon and had a great moment taking the 1979 Bucs to the NFC Championship Game. He also lost a lot of games.
Along the way, McKay was always very colorful. I got into this business long after McKay was done coaching and only got to interview him twice. Once was when Selmon was about to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and McKay was great.
The other came on a night that I still use as an example anytime someone starts saying I have a “dream’’ job, which generally is true. But there are certain times in this business where you have to do things you don’t want to do. That’s what happened the night O.J. Simpson was riding around California in that Bronco. Television reports said McKay, who had coached Simpson at USC, had talked to the former running back to try to diffuse the situation.
This was a national story and my editors at The Tampa Tribune were looking for a local angle. When they heard of McKay’s involvement, I knew I had to do something unpleasant. I had McKay’s cell phone number.
I called it, introduced myself, got a two-word response (that generously was translated into “no comment’’) and the phone went dead. McKay had hung up. Can’t blame him. I probably would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed.
But I’m not going to remember McKay by that one incident. By all indications, the man was a jewel for the media throughout his coaching career. We’ve all heard the quote about McKay being “in favor’’ of his team’s execution.
There are dozens more legendary quotes from McKay. Joey Johnston’s got a list of some of McKay’s best quotes. Give it a read. I promise, you’ll get some laughs.