LeSean 'Shady' McCoy is the best running back on the planet, that's not debatable. Okay, maybe there has been a little debate about that. But some things are definitely for certain: Shady led the league in rushing yards last year, led the league in yards from scrimmage last year, and is in a prime position to repeat and even surpass those efforts this year.
The Philadelphia Eagles back—who through a partnership with Bounce for Men is on a quest for 2,000 yards this season and has the dryer sheet company donating $10 for every rushing yard gained up to $20,000 to his Shades of Greatness Foundation—is at the height of his career. And regardless of whether or not he can really throw 45LB plates with ease or catch passes blindfolded, hes already proven he can do all of the things necessary to be one of if not the best in the game today. Catching passes out of the backfield? Check. Blocking linebackers on third down? Check. Breaking the Eagles' all-time single-game rushing record (and several Lions' ankles) in a virtual blizzard? Triple check.
We caught up with Shady to ask him about this upcoming season, his head coach Chip Kelly, his Kobe Bryant fanhood, the struggles of NFL stars, and whether or not Eagles QB Nick Foles can do the Shmoney Dance.
Complex: You've hooked up with Bounce to give charitable donations for each yard and—after doing some quick Googling—I saw that you also donated a bunch of backpacks and polos for school kids in your hometown of Harrisburg, PA. Why do you think stories like this tend to get buried while everything negative gets brought to the surface?
LeSean McCoy: I'm not sure. I do things—whether it's donations or events for good causes or giving back to my community—for the right reason: because I want to. Because it's the best thing to do. I wanna help someone else out. As far as all the attention for it, that's cool if I get it, but I'm not doing it for that reason. Stuff like that doesn't really phase me.
Complex: I've personally been an Eagles fan my entire life and saw how big of a transition it was going from Andy Reid to Chip Kelly. How long do you think it'll take for the rest of the league to catch up to Chip "sports science"-wise and with signaling plays from the sidelines?
McCoy: One thing I can tell you is from watching tape and film and games on TV—I see a lot of our plays, man. Plays that we use are on different teams. I guess when people feel intimidated or they see something having success they steal it. I don't judge 'em for it but I'm starting to notice that. I actually brought that up to Chip [last season].
Complex: Do you foresee a future where most teams if not all teams use no-huddle?
McCoy: I'm not sure what teams will do, but even before Chip got here I would see teams like the Patriots go no-huddle, fast tempo. I think people definitely steal things from Chip because he's successful and has a bright future...but you never know. We'll see.
Complex: Still on Chip Kelly, if you look up anything related to the his personal life online you get nothing. I'm not going to ask you about his personal life, but what do players think about him not discussing his personal life? Are there guys on the team who bug him about it?
McCoy: As players he opens up to us; he's different to the media. I'm sure if you ask his players from Oregon or even his players on the Eagles, he has different stories that you can talk to him about. He's fun. He may not show much to the media but he's real fun. He's funny and he loves the game.
Complex: Does Nick Foles know rap? Like if I asked him what the Shmoney Dance was would he know what it is?
McCoy: [laughs] No he wouldn't know what that is. Nope.
Complex: There was a tweet from you a while back where you said Kobe was the greatest ever. Why do you have Kobe over Bron or MJ?
McCoy: MJ is probably the hardest one to put him over, but Kobe Bryant is the guy. In his prime he could score from anywhere. Defensively he always stuck the best player. He has that winning attitude. I like Kobe, I like the way he approaches the game. He's a warrior. He's got that killer instinct, that Mamba blood. You try to take that to the football field. Kobe's the best, man. If he's not better than Jordan he's the closest one.
Complex: Watching your career through the years even back when you wore number 29 I'd hear stuff like, "Wow he's got Barry Sanders-like ability." People use that comparison a lot. At what point do you think people will stop saying that you're like Barry Sanders and start comparing other players to you?
McCoy: They use that comparison so loosely–we're talking about Barry Sanders. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but I know reality. I'm nowhere near Barry Sanders. But that doesn't take anything away from my game. I love to compete, I love to make plays, and I think eventually they'll start to compare other players to me. I think when I get older. "Oh, he reminds me of LeSean." Probably when I get older.
Complex: Maybe after you retire they'll look at the entire body of work instead of judging week-to-week.
McCoy: Exactly. Yup, yup.
Complex: Do you think these defensive holding penalties will slow down once the season kicks off?
McCoy: I'm really not sure, but I think in this game teams wanna win so bad that they'll adjust to the rules.
Complex: So you're saying coaches will be more forceful in making players follow those rules instead of yelling at refs or the league office?
McCoy: You got to; the ref are not gonna change their calls. The game is what they call it. We gotta do a better job of not getting caught or stop doing something wrong to get the flags.
Complex: There aren't a lot of feature backs in the league anymore—you're one of them—but there are only a handful of guys who are feature backs. There's a decline in the position. Would you push your kid to play running back or anybody's kid to play running back or would you want someone you love to play a different position if they were coming up now?
McCoy: It's tough, it depends on how good that person is. It's hard to tell. You gotta be the right size, height, speed–all those are a big factor in what position you play. If you love the game, play the position you love. Some positions get paid more, but at the end of the day you gotta play the game you love.
Complex: Is that a joke among NFL players? I know if I'm playing Madden I gotta pay my tackle more than I pay my punter. Do guys in the locker room joke like that? Is there a thing in the NFL where the high-paid position players give a look to the other guys like, "You know what it is"?
McCoy: [laughs] Not really, maybe jokes. Jason Peters is the big, big money guy on our team. We make jokes. I might make jokes like, "Hey man, let me borrow something" or "Pay for lunch today." Just jokes like that.
Complex: Who's the THIRD best running back in the league? I know you've been getting questions about Adrian Peterson and I know consensus is that you're the top two, who's that third guy?
McCoy: There's a lot of good ones. I love Jamaal Charles. I'm not sure who would be third, I'm trying to stay number one.
Complex: You and Jamaal have a similar skill set. I'm guessing that's why you consider him one of the top backs because he's a pass-catcher, can still block on third downs, stuff like that?
McCoy: He's just productive. Whatever coach wants him to do, "Hey, Jamaal, we need you to catch this. Run a route. We need you to run the ball on 3rd and 1." Whatever you want him to do he can do. He's explosive and he makes big plays. I like him.
Complex: I'm sure Andy [Reid] does, too.
Complex: What's the hardest non-football part about being an NFL player? As someone who doesn't have 7 or 8 figures in my bank account I'm guessing it's probably people asking for money. Is that what you've found or are there other things that are really hard that you didn't anticipate about being a football player?
McCoy: That can be bad. Yeah, that gets tough at times. My issue is I'll be out with my son just eating at a restaurant and people will want to come up and shake your hand and...like I'm out with my son. I'm watching him, trying to feed him. It's just germs and stuff. When the kids come up, it's different. They're probably more excited and they're children they don't really know so that's different. But the grown-ups.
Complex: Like grown 30 or 40-something year-old men coming up and geeking out--
McCoy: My thing is: just wait. Wait until we get done eating and ask me then.
Complex: Always thought that was weird. Or like when people are taking selfies and pictures on the sly thinking they're slick trying to come up from behind you...
McCoy: [laughs]. Like we can't tell. We can tell.
Complex: I've always laughed at that. Like...Rihanna sees you. You're not slick.
McCoy: You're right. Exactly. We see it comin'.
Complex: Everyone seems to love the fact that Chip will explain the "Why?" for everything and makes sure everyone knows exactly WHY they're doing something. Are there any other things he's done as a coach to make guys buy in? Because the narrative that everyone's pushing seems to be, "Oh well Chip will explain everything." Well, that's nice, but what else is there that has everyone feeling like he's the guy?
McCoy: Everything he does for all the players, it all comes down to he wants the best for us. Like usually teams will let the players go get their own massages, but he'll have them waiting for you without even asking for it. He does all the small things to make players better. As a player knowing that, you appreciate it.
Complex: One last thing...how long do you think the NFL has left? With all the head injuries and people keeping their kids out of football, do you think there's a year where the NFL will not be the number one sport or not be around?
McCoy: No. No way. No way possible. People–they love this game. Players love it. And when you add fantasy football in it they love it even more now. I don't think so. Plus they're trying to make the game safer. So I doubt that. I highly doubt that.