NFL All-Pro Gerald McCoy Highlights His Passions Through Giving Back and Partnerships

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been named to six Pro Bowls and the NFL All-Pro first team three times. However, it is not only his accolades as a player that are notable.

This past season, McCoy was nominated for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, given annually to one player for outstanding community service off the field, as well as performing well on the field. McCoy’s understanding of the importance of helping others is something he admits has been present in his life from an early age thanks to the teachings of his parents, both of whom were youth pastors in the Oklahoma City area.

“Giving back is just something that’s in you and my parents are the reason it’s in me,” McCoy says. “One thing they really imparted on me was being selfless. They were always concerned with how we could help somebody else out or make life for other people a little bit easier. I still feel like that’s a part of who I am.”

McCoy recalls several instances from his youth when his parents would go out of their way to help local homeless families with gifts of food or money. It was this spirit that McCoy wanted to keep alive in bringing Gerald McCoy’s Patricia Diane Foundation, named after his late mother, to life. The foundation focuses specifically on providing resources to single-parent homes. After witnessing friends and relatives struggle as single parents throughout his life, McCoy describes them as “real-life superheroes.”

“I’m big into superheroes,” McCoy professes, “but the real heroes are these single parents getting it done day in and day out.”

When it comes to his humanitarian work and his other off-field ventures, McCoy utilizes Twitter and Instagram to bring attention to causes that are dear to him as well as build his personal brand. This has become a key practice for NFL players in recent years.

“Because fans see us in full uniform so often, they tend to only think of us as football players,” McCoy remarks, “and as a result, people don’t really get to see who we are, what we care about, and what’s in our hearts.”

As McCoy puts it, social media gives us a chance to show who we are when the helmet comes off.

“It’s all about passion. You don’t have to wonder what a person is passionate about because it shows,” McCoy states. “You can see it. So social really allows me to share what I’m working on in the community and it allows me to connect with people outside of what I can do as an athlete.”

McCoy’s social presence also allows him to work with brands and develop partnerships that may not be possible in any other context. When they are authentic to who he is, McCoy embraces these opportunities.

“I like when brands allow me to show who I am through digital activations or on social media. You can always tell when a person is really interested in the brand that they’re partnering with.”

For the past several years, McCoy has partnered with Pepsi, which includes him in social campaigns that allow him to showcase his personality.

On top of the chance to create great content, McCoy acknowledges the reach of distributing on social media.

“One of the first things that people do when they wake up is check social media,” McCoy points out. “They’re checking it all the time throughout the day. That’s just the world that we live in. If you don’t acknowledge that, then you need to catch up.”

READ MORE: How a New Alliance of Companies Aims to Maximize Athlete-Driven Content 

One tool that McCoy and his team utilize to distribute branded content to his social channels is athlete marketing platform opendorse. Through it, brands can pass content to McCoy and both can devise captions that fit his voice to tailor to his audience.

“Opendorse is very useful. The content always comes out really good and it’s been very useful for us posting our content with Pepsi and some of my other brand partners.”

When his playing days are eventually over, McCoy plans to pursue an acting career. Thanks to an active social presence and partnering with brands that help him showcase his passionate nature, he is setting himself up for more success following a fruitful near-decade on the field. When he gets to that point, expect his first project to be consistent with the personal brand he has worked so hard to build for himself.

“My acting career could start small,” McCoy says. “It may even be a web series or another format that we distribute on social channels. That would be cool. I’d love for it to be something superhero-related as well. I feel like that would be a lot of fun.”