Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is giving ESPN a rare look at what a typical game week is like for an NFL player. Check back every day for exclusive behind-the-scenes stories from Bob Holtzman's time with McCoy.
It's the day before the Bucs' home opener, and there's little time to rest for McCoy. As he does every Saturday, McCoy arrives at work by 7 a.m. armed with dozens and dozens of doughnuts. A few days ago, McCoy was teaching school kids about the benefits of a healthy diet, but McCoy will admit he has always liked a good doughnut.
By mid-afternoon McCoy is again surrounded by food. Crab legs, steak, chicken and waffles -- and more doughnuts. The spread isn't just for him; it's a brunch he and his wife Ebony are hosting at their home for friends and family who have made the trip to Tampa for Sunday's game. "You got to find time to squeeze it in," McCoy explained while standing in his kitchen. "Pretty much everybody you see in this room has been supporting me forever."
Saturday night, McCoy checks into the hotel where the Bucs stay the night before home games, and he finally gets some peace and quiet. "My wife, she hates when I say it, but coming to the hotel is always a good getaway. You can get a good night's sleep and really get your head together for the game."
McCoy watches film of the Rams then wraps up a busy week in a way you'd never expect. "One thing I have to do [the night before a game], home or away, I order cookies and milk. I just have to. After I finish these I'm going to sleep so good."
Day 5 | All-access video
Friday started well enough for McCoy. He strolled into the Bucs' weight room a little after 6:30 a.m. and shouted, "Strike it up! You know what time it is!"
"It's fight song Friday," McCoy told me. "I usually have on Bucs stuff [to work out], but today I have on an OU shirt." Dressed in a University of Oklahoma crimson and cream pullover, McCoy went sprinting around the weight room like a kid full of candy as the Bucs' strength and conditioning coach played "Boomer Sooner."
Friday's workout is optional. For McCoy there's no such thing.
"I've already put in the work that actually pertains to my job," McCoy said. "I finished that on Wednesday." I asked about the extra work. Why? McCoy has the Pro Bowls and nearly $100 million on his current deal. "All that stuff is fine, but I've never been to the playoffs."
By the time practice ended a few hours later McCoy was in a more serious mood. The Bucs learned Friday morning that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had been arrested overnight and charged with DUI. Tampa released Seferian-Jenkins later in the day. "Obviously you're thinking about it," said McCoy. "But when something like that happens it's a 'Next man up' mentality. So you got to go out there and work and whoever is out there with me that's who I'm going to work with."
McCoy spent the rest of Friday juggling film and family. His wife's birthday party was Friday night and McCoy was expecting a few dozen people. It's been a long and tiring week, but McCoy knows his job is to be ready for the home opener on Sunday. "Regardless of how I feel," McCoy explained, "whether I'm tired at home, what my family's got going, they expect Gerald McCoy to be Gerald McCoy every week."
Day 4 | All-access video
McCoy's Thursday afternoon involved a 300-degree temperature swing. The Bucs practiced in 90-degree heat for the second straight day, then McCoy headed straight for the cryotherapy chamber.
"This is my everyday process," McCoy said while standing inside the nitrogen-filled cold tank designed to reduce inflammation. "It's at negative 200. We're working to get to negative 250."
After two-and-a-half minutes, McCoy stepped out of the cryo chamber and jokingly flexed. "I feel good. Ready for another practice."
Normally Thursday night means one thing to McCoy. "Sleep," he said laughing. "But today is my wife's birthday so we have dinner later so I can't go to sleep. I have to re-energize myself and make sure she has a great birthday dinner.
"I don't think [people on the] outside really understand what goes into us being us," the father of four said Thursday. "[Fans] don't see all you have to balance and still show up and be yourself. Fans don't care about any of that. They just want to see us perform, and that's hard to do."
Day 3 | All-access video
McCoy was sweating even before he reached the practice field. The temperature was 91 with a heat index of exactly 100. McCoy was in full pads -- the way he and the Buccaneers are every Wednesday -- with no breeze whatsoever.
"Look at that flag," McCoy said during practice, eyeing the massive Bucs flag just beyond the field. "That is the indicator of what practice is going to be like. Flag limp. Flag is dead, oh gosh."
After a 40-7 loss in Arizona, McCoy said on Monday that his "whole body hurt." Two days later, with an old shoulder injury nagging him and a little bit of a sore knee, it was time to go back to work. "Wednesday is the hardest day of the week because you've got these on," McCoy said, tapping on his shoulder pads. "Monday, you hurt a lot because of the game. Tuesday you feel a little better. Wednesday is the hardest day."
McCoy spent more than 12 hours at the Bucs' practice facility. The day started at 7 a.m. with a workout and ended at 7 p.m. with a radio show. His day will be just as long on Thursday.
The Bucs' home opener is only four days away, and McCoy has already peeked at the forecast. He didn't like what he saw. It's going to be hot and humid at kickoff with a heat index near 110.
Day 2 | All-access video
In the NFL, Tuesdays are gold. That's the players' only day off. For McCoy, there's no sleeping in. "My alarm goes off at 5:15," the Bucs defensive tackle told me. "I have four kids, and they really enjoy me taking them to school on my off day, so I have to make it happen. I have the rest of the day to sleep."
Only McCoy doesn't sleep. After delivering his four children to three different schools, McCoy drives nearly an hour to a Tampa elementary school to help teach children about health and nutrition.
"Vegetables! Yeah! Fruits! Yeah!" an animated McCoy told third and fourth graders at Lanier Elementary. "You have to eat your fruits and your veggies. All of us Buccaneers do it, so we want to encourage you all to do it."
It's back to work tomorrow. The Bucs practice in pads every Wednesday. Tuesday was McCoy's one shot at a day off this week, and he spent it with his four children and hundreds of others. "My ultimate goal when I'm done playing is to touch as many lives as I can," McCoy said. "Even more than just get as many Super Bowls as I can or personal goals on the field."
"Safe to assume you're tired?" I asked McCoy on Tuesday afternoon. He sighed and gave a simple answer: "I'm really tired. I need a nap."
Day 1 | All-access video
McCoy walked into his home north of Tampa at 2:45 on Monday morning; he was sore, tired and frustrated. That's what happens when a 40-7 loss is followed by a four-hour flight home.
At 6 a.m., none of that mattered to McCoy's oldest son. "He woke me up, 'Dad, will you take me to school?'" McCoy told ESPN on Monday. "I told him, 'I'll take you every day this week, but I can't do it today. Daddy's tired.'"
McCoy is a dedicated father of four, active at home and in the community, but this morning, he needed a break. An old shoulder injury was bugging him again. So was his knee. His entire body hurt. That's what happens on Mondays. McCoy walked his dogs and fed his fish and enjoyed a rare few hours of silence at home. After seven years in the NFL, he has learned to cherish what little quiet time he gets. McCoy knows it won't be long before there's film to watch, weights to lift and children who need rides to school.