LeSean McCoy calls it a career, will sign one-day contract to retire with Eagles

·4 min read

After 12 seasons in the NFL, running back LeSean McCoy is hanging up his cleats.

The Philadelphia Eagles announced the news on Thursday, kicking off what will be several days of celebrating McCoy's excellent career. McCoy spent his first six NFL seasons with the Eagles, and will sign a one-day contract with them on Friday so he can retire with the team he never wanted to leave.

"After 12 years in the NFL, I've decided to retire an Eagle because this is home to me," McCoy, 33, wrote in his retirement announcement on the Eagles' website. "I still have that green inside my heart. There are times when I'd see the Eagles on TV, and it just felt weird not wearing that uniform. I instantly think back to all of those big games and the roar of the fans; I've just always seen myself as an Eagle. It's only right to come back home and retire an Eagle."

McCoy, the Eagles' all-time leading rusher and the most productive running back of the 2010s, will also be honored at the Eagles' home game on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

McCoy became a star in Philadelphia

A second-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh, McCoy joined the Eagles in 2009, trying to fill the un-fillable shoes of Brian Westbrook. But it didn't take long for McCoy to break out and make a name for himself. 

In his second season, McCoy tallied 1,080 yards and seven touchdowns, but that was just a taste of what was to come. In 2011, he rushed for 1,309 yards with a whopping 17 touchdowns. That earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors for the very first time. 

McCoy rushed for over 1,300 yards twice in the next three years, including a massive NFL best 1,607 yards in 2013. He became a beloved figure in Philadelphia, a highlight-producing mainstay of those almost-but-not-quite Eagles teams of the early 2010s.

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  LeSean McCoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at AT&T Stadium on November 27, 2014 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Running back LeSean McCoy, who was drafted by the Eagles in 2009, will return to Philadelphia to sign a one-day contract and retire with the Eagles. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

McCoy heads to Buffalo

Chip Kelly, who had replaced Andy Reid as Eagles head coach when Reid was fired after the 2012 season, unceremoniously traded McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in early 2015 for linebacker Kiko Alonso. McCoy signed a five-year, $40 million extension upon arriving in Buffalo and nursed a grudge against Kelly, refusing to shake his hand when the Bills faced the Eagles in 2015.

McCoy spent four seasons in Buffalo, rushing for over 1,000 yards twice and helping the Bills lead the NFL in rushing yards in 2015 and 2016. He made three more trips to the Pro Bowl, and in 2017 became the 30th player to exceed 10,000 rushing yards. 

McCoy started to hit a wall in 2018, his age 30 season, which would be his final year with the Bills. He rushed for just 514 yards and was released in August 2019. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, reuniting with Reid, but rushed for under 500 yards over 13 games, scoring four touchdowns. He got a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs after the 2019 season, and would get one the next year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers despite not seeing much playing time. 

McCoy comes home

McCoy wrote that he continued to feel attached to the Eagles long after he was traded. He wished he could have stayed with the Eagles for his entire career and helped lead the Super Bowl parade down Broad Street after Philly won it all in Feb. 2018. 

"When the Eagles had the championship run in 2017, I was cheering for them. It was bittersweet because I would have loved to have been there. Watching them as a kid, they were so, so close for many years. It would have meant so much more for me to help get them over the top. When I saw the celebrations on Broad Street, I felt it. I felt that adrenaline. It hurt because it made me wish that all of my big accomplishments were there that much more. I think about what it would have been like to win a Super Bowl with the Eagles all the time."

The Eagles are honoring McCoy at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, where the fans will get to see him on the field one more time.

"Philadelphia, you embraced me from day one, welcomed me in with open arms both on and off the field. It's a special place for me and always will be. To retire as an Eagle and be an Eagle for life is really important to me. I can't wait to see everyone this Sunday. I love Philadelphia because I came from that type of environment. Philly can be tough. You demand a lot from us, but I loved that. I like a challenge. If you're not happy, I always looked at it as, "Let's respond and find a way to play better."

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