The trade between the Bills and Eagles might be nine months old, but the feelings are still very raw for LeSean McCoy. Talking about the Bills upcoming game with his former Philadelphia team on Sunday, the subject of Eagles head coach Chip Kelly came up. It didn't take long for McCoy's emotions to stir.
On the morning conference call with Buffalo media, Kelly made it a point to reiterate the respect he has for McCoy as a player. He called him one of the premier running backs in the league, admitted that the trade wasn't handled properly with news of the trade breaking before he could call McCoy. And he said he would love to shake McCoy's hand after the game.McCoy, who said Wednesday that he'd like to catch up with members of Eagles ownership, some former teammates and even some loyal Eagles fans after the game made it clear he wants no interaction whatsoever with his former head coach.
"Man, listen, I'm not talking to Chip," said an agitated McCoy. "We've got nothing to talk about. He can't call me, he can't shake my hand. There's nothing he can do with me. He can't say (expletive) to me, it's as simple as that. I don't dislike him. I don't have anything against him, but there's nothing for us to talk about. He knows that. He knows me. He knows how I am. He knows how I act. There's nothing he can tell me. There's nothing he can talk about."
McCoy maintains he harbors no hatred or ill will toward the Eagles head coach, but it's clear he's closed the chapter of his career that was spent with Kelly.
"We have nothing to talk about. I'm with the Bills, he's with the Eagles," said McCoy. "We never had a great relationship as friends. There's nothing to really talk about. Like I said I'm not going to go over there and say this and that to him. There's no need for that. But on the other end there's no need for us to really (talk) about (any)thing."
As for the game itself, McCoy has never denied that he would be looking forward to it. His return to Philadelphia, to face the Eagles as a Bills running back for the first time since the trade that took him completely by surprise, is now here. So how does he intend to handle it?
Like a professional.
McCoy is a native Pennsylvanian. He grew up in Harrisburg, played his college ball at Pitt and was drafted by Philadelphia. His whole football career was rooted in the Keystone state, until this past March. Now faced with returning to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time as an opponent, in a game that Buffalo has to win to remain in the AFC Wild Card hunt, McCoy does not want to let his emotions get the best of him.
"I'm a team player first," he said following the team's Wednesday practice. "Sure I have my own personal issues that I think will come around in this game, but at the end of the day we have to win as a team. That's the main concern and so I have to do a good job of controlling that."
Buffalo's feature back, who has rolled up 100 or more all-purpose yards in the last six games for the Bills, had the good fortune of seeing his head coach and two current teammates go through the same type of experience earlier this season.
"I watched a lot of other people like Rex, he had to go back to the Jets," said McCoy. "I saw the way he handled it. (Charles) Clay and Richie (Incognito) how they kind of handled it (in Miami), so that's really helped me out. Knowing how I am I would've been going crazy, but seeing them go through it and me being the last person, I've got to be a professional."
McCoy suspects that some Eagles defensive players will be trying to get him to blow his stack and take him off his game Sunday.
"Knowing how that team is, and even though a lot of those guys I'm friends with them, I could see them provoking a type of argument on the field or getting flags," he said. "That's stuff I don't do, but in a situation like this I'm sure they'd be looking for me to retaliate and do different things. I don't want to hurt the team as much as I want to go out and play well. And at the end of the day I want to play well against any team. Now it won't hurt to have six or seven touchdowns in this game."
In addition to keeping his cool, McCoy also wants to avoid letting his competitive nature lead him into trying too hard to make something happen.
"I just don't want to press and get too hyped and want to make too many plays, want to get a kill block and miss," he said. "I don't want to make those type of errors. I don't want to play that game. I want to go out there and have fun and make plays, but I don't want to press and try to do too much. You leave the guys you practice with the whole year out there. I don't want to do that."
It won't be an easy balance. A hugely important game, emotions sitting just below the surface and a burning desire to produce for his team. McCoy doesn't dismiss them. Instead he has prioritized them with just one thing and one thing only at the top of the list this weekend.
"I don't want to make this a 'me show' because with that type of attitude if I have a huge game and we lose how do you walk off the field," McCoy said. "The main thing is just going in there and winning. That's the biggest stat you could have."