Ricky Watters knows where LeSean McCoy comes from. Life is different in Harrisburg, Pa. Countless running backs don’t make it out. These two did.
Here are a few extra thoughts from the former 5-time Pro Bowler on Harrisburg, McCoy’s style and their relationship in addition to today's story on the best backs in recent history dissecting McCoy's game...
On McCoy’s game… “He’s multi-faceted, first of all. He has all the tools. He’s super quick. He’s fast enough. He has the vision. But the amazing cutting ability that he has is what really separates him. … He puts on a show, just like he did at Bishop McDevitt. I shattered all the records and then he came by and kicked all of my records to the curb. He’s always been that way. He’s always had the quickness, always had the vision. But he has matured into something even more special because now he’s a leader. He’s going to bring great leadership to that Buffalo locker room. He’s going to help those young quarterbacks. You never know what’s going to happen when it all comes together but he’s going to put on a show wherever he is.”
On how McCoy cuts on a dime… “Yeah, you have to be very relaxed and in the moment. It’s like that zone, when you get into the zone. There have been times I’ve played—many times I don’t even know some of the moves that I’ve made. I go back, look at the film and say ‘Oh, I did that? I didn’t even know that guy was there.’ It was like I felt him. I think a lot of it is instinct. And certain guys have it, certain guys don’t. He’s one of those guys who has great instincts and vision — that peripheral vision.”
On growing up in Harrisburg… “It’s a way of life for us. Even before we got to that level, we were playing in the parking lots. In the streets. We’d be playing in the streets, a car would come through, we’d wait for the car to go by and then keep on playing. Wherever we could play, we’d play. It didn’t matter if it was sandlot, it didn’t matter if it was grass, it didn’t matter if it was concrete, it didn’t matter if it was the parking lot, it didn’t matter if it was snow and we’re tackling in the snow. It didn’t matter. We were playing.
“There were a lot of great players. There were a lot of great players—great running backs—there who didn’t make it. They were fantastic. That we were going against. It was like, ‘Oh, this guy’s supposed to be The Guy.’ And then for whatever reason, the person got hurt, got injured, got in trouble, there was one guy who got shot. It was crazy. On one of the teams I was on, he was the running back and I was the wide receiver. I couldn’t play running back over him because he was better than I was playing running back! … He got shot in the head on mistaken identity.
"Some of them got girls pregnant early, started to get a job and just messed their whole career up. Some couldn’t get their grades straight. Even that, you sit out a year and it makes a difference. If you’re not level-headed, if you don’t have someone to help you, a lot of times you need good people around you to help you.”
On his advice to McCoy growing up… “To be humble, which he is. To believe in yourself. You never want to let other people pull you back and derail you to keep you from making it. The best way to make it is to stay focused. When everybody else is out there swimming in the summer time, hanging out and having a good time, we’re running hills. We’re running hills. We’re taking care of our body. We’re drinking water. We’re drinking Gatorade. We’re making sure we’re hydrated. We’re not drinking 40 ounces of beer like other guys were doing when I was coming up and when he was coming up.
“It’s only getting worse out there. It’s not getting better. It’s getting worse. He dealt with things I never had to deal with. We didn’t have gangs; we had people who kind of called themselves ‘gangs.’ They acted like gangs but they weren’t really gangs. There weren’t drug dealers on the scale of what he had growing up. And guys with guns."
On what attitude a Harrisburg RB has… “The fact that it’s the capitol but that it doesn’t feel like the capitol. It’s always like Philly’s over us, Pittsburgh’s over us. It was always like, ‘This guy’s coming down. This guy’s from New York. This guy thinks he’s so cool up there and we’re like nothing.’ It gives you a big chip and I think he runs with a chip on his shoulder. I did. We have a little chip. And we want to prove that Harrisburg is not just Hershey chocolate. We can ball, we can ball and we can make it out. There’s always this feeling that there’s great players but they can’t make it out. They can’t amount to anything. They fall prey to something and stopping them. And we did that. We showed that.”
On watching backs today… “I have respect for Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and more power runners. But the guys I love watching are the all-around backs—the ones who run, catch, block. I mean, there’s no reason to take the guy off the field. Third-down situations, he’s just as good as first down and second down. That’s how they saw it with me, as an every-down back. He’s an every-down back. There’s not many of them left. Now, they have situational backs. For me, it’s fun to watch the guys who can do it all and you know wants to do well. He wants to do well and he wants to win for his whole team. He wants them to go to the Super Bowl. He believed he could take the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He believes he could take the Bills to the Super Bowl.”
On if McCoy can remain an elite back…“I think a lot of that’s overrated. It’s the type of running back. And he is the type that lasts. Like Marshall Faulk — a type that lasts. I was the type that lasts. Thurman Thomas was the type that lasts. Because we’re not just running in there, smashing and banging. We’re not like Earl Campbell and all them that really ran hard, the Bo Jacksons that didn’t last as long. The way he plays the game—he’s real smart—and people need to give him credit for that. He’s very, very smart. He knows what to do and he knows how to play the game and then make plays without just throwing his body around crazy.”