- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2020

Goodbye Colt McCoy. Thanks for the memory.

McCoy, a Washington Redskins’ backup quarterback for six years, has agreed to a one-year deal to be the backup for the NFC East division rival New York Giants.

There won’t be any official goodbyes, no ceremony at Redskins Park, and it is not because everything is on coronavirus lockdown.

McCoy, 33, was the backup that Redskins fans never truly appreciated.

But the coach who was fired, Jay Gruden, loved and valued McCoy. So did his teammates. The Texas product was as beloved a figure as there was in that Redskins locker room over the last six years.

Fans won’t, but should (after all, you have nothing but time now) take a moment and thank McCoy for being a beacon of decency in an organization filled with deceit and dysfunction.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, thank McCoy for giving this franchise one great memory ­— the backup leading the Redskins to a dramatic “Monday Night Football” victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

There’s a case to be made that the 20-17 overtime win over in 2014 that McCoy engineered was the greatest of Gruden’s tenure. Granted, the bar isn’t that high, but there was no more glorious feel-good win — a victory, on national television, over a hated rival, an 11-point favorite no less — during the coach’s six years at the helm.

Some would argue 2015’s 38-24 win over the Eagles in Philadelphia to clinch the NFC East — and Washington’s only playoff appearance over that stretch — was bigger. Did it feel that way after the season ended a week later with the thudding 35-18 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers at Fed Ex Field?

The 2015 Redskins were who they have always been under owner Dan Snyder for the past 20 years — a disappointment.

But for one October night in 2014, McCoy and the Redskins were the toast of the NFL.

They fell back to reality the following week, of course, when Gruden was forced by the owner to play Robert Griffin III in a 29-26 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Things had returned to normal.

It wasn’t necessarily that the Redskins would have done much better under McCoy that season — he wound up starting again against Indianapolis on Nov. 30 after Griffin was benched. Washington lost 49-27, but it wasn’t because of McCoy.

He completed 31 of 47 passes for 392 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

But McCoy bombed the following week against St. Louis, a 24-0 loss, completing 20 of 32 passes for 199 yards and two interceptions, suffering a neck injury that would result in an early exit the following week against the Giants.

It was then that McCoy was introduced to the feared Redskins medical staff. Unfortunately, he became all too familiar with them.

But that Oct. 28 night at JerryWorld? No one can take that away from him.

The Redskins were 2-5, facing the 6-1 Cowboys. McCoy was going back home to a state where he had been a college star, leading the Longhorns to the national championship game against Alabama.

After the injury he suffered in the loss to Alabama, he struggled in the NFL.

He went to the Cleveland Browns in the third round of the 2010 draft, was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in 2013 and became a free agent in 2014. He was signed by Washington as the third quarterback behind Griffin and Kirk Cousins.

So when he got the start against Dallas, no one expected much — ­ except me.

The week before, in relief of Cousins at halftime, McCoy completed 11 of 12 passes for 128 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, leading Washington to a 19-17 comeback win over Tennessee.

After the game, McCoy stood before reporters at the press conference and said, “This league is very unforgiving, and I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to still be able to play.”

Now, I have been in maybe thousands of similar press conferences, and heard athletes testify about what a moment or game meant to them, But I had never seen anyone as passionate and sincere as Colt McCoy was that Sunday afternoon. Never.

When he was named the starter the next week against Dallas, I had the sense that he was up to the task, and far more capable than everyone expected.

I predicted victory for McCoy in Dallas.

He didn’t disappoint, completing 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards and running for one touchdown. He led the Redskins on the game-winning drive in overtime that led to Kai Forbath’s 40-yard field goal — a rare victory on Monday night for the beleaguered franchise.

In a 2017 conversation on my Cigars & Curveballs podcast, McCoy spoke of what that win over Tennessee meant to him.

“The Tennessee game was a special moment for me because, as you can imagine, the amount of frustration I had had since coming out of college and being injured … I don’t think people realize the extent of the injury that I had and the things I had to go through to get back to being healthy.

“Coming off the bench against Tennessee and having Jay trust me to do that it was a combination of a lot of things — going through my last year in Cleveland and the year in San Francisco and landing on my feet in Washington,” McCoy said. “I hadn’t played in a little over a year so being able to step on the field and play well and be confident that I could still go out there and do this, that was a really big deal for me.”

And, as it turned out, a really big deal for Redskins fans the following week in Dallas.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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