McCown said the moment was bittersweet because his promotion came along with a demotion for his close friend Mike Glennon. McCown suffered a thumb injury in a Week 3 loss to Atlanta, and Glennon had been starting since then. McCown will make his return Sunday against Atlanta.
"As a competitor, you want to play, no question," McCown said. "But you guys know how I feel about Mike and helping a guy improve and get better. From that regard, you have mixed emotions.
"But at the same time, as a captain on the team and a player who's on a 1-7 team, you want to do everything you can to help the team win. And if Coach says we want you to play, you've got to get excited about the opportunity, and I am."
Glennon first made it public on a radio show Tuesday night, but coach Lovie Smith acknowledged the change on Wednesday.
"Josh was the starter before he got hurt," Smith said. "He's healthy. He's back in."
Both quarterbacks talked Wednesday about switching roles.
"Obviously disappointed," Glennon said of his benching. "Not what I would like, but I'm going to keep preparing the same way I always have. I was in here all day yesterday watching film and was in here this morning with my same routine that I always do. Whatever I can do to help the team, I'm going to continue to do that."
Glennon, who started 13 games as a rookie, started five games this season and completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 1,417 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. The Bucs went 1-4 with Glennon as the starter.
"I'm upset with our record, and that's a reflection of my play," Glennon said. "We need to win more games, and that's a reflection on the quarterback. Just win. That's the bottom line. Quarterbacks are judged by wins and losses. There were a lot of games where we were right in it and we didn't win."
McCown, 35, was signed as a free agent and immediately named the starter by Smith. But the injury put McCown on the sideline and he expected to stay there.
"I was expecting that after the injury Mike would take it and run with it and we'd win a lot of ballgames," McCown said. "For some reason or another, not completely on Mike, we've not done that. But my main thing is I just want to win games. Whatever it takes to make that happen, that's what I want to see happen. I love playing this game, and we play to play. Don't get me wrong on that."