30 Yards and a Cloud of Dust

by longformphilly

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Seth Wickersham | ESPN The Magazine | August 2014

LeSean McCoy is dressing for his first Chip Kelly practice. It’s a year ago May. Like all of the Eagles, he is unsure what to expect from his new coach. He knows that practice will be fast, because everything about Kelly is about speed — from how he talks, to how he hustles around the facility, to how, as the coach at the University of Oregon, he once chastised an assistant for exiting the freeway onto “inefficient” side streets. So it’s important for McCoy, who likes to be “the flyest guy on the team,” to be dressed and ready to roll: a white long-sleeve shirt, black shorts, a black headband and, finally, black socks.

Looking good. Feeling good. But then a team staffer says, “Uh, LeSean, I don’t want to burst your bubble. You look nice, but you got a dress code.”

It’s Chip Kelly’s dress code, and it mandates white socks. Kelly wants the Eagles to be uniform, like a team. No exceptions — not even for McCoy, a 2009 second-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh who, with warp speed and quick feet, has become an NFL All-Pro. He’s desperate to join Adrian Peterson as their generation’s only Hall of Fame running backs. McCoy has a broad forehead and football-shaped eyes. He never stops moving and yet is late to everything. His mood is as shifty as his running style, which is why they call him Shady. And at this moment, he is, along with Michael Vick, the core of former coach Andy Reid’s decidedly NFL offense. Reid was fired and replaced by Kelly — a “college guy,” McCoy calls him.

The white socks feel like a gimmick.

So McCoy wears black socks to the first practice — and tapes them white.

Writer bio: From what we can tell, Seth Wickersham has never worked in Philadelphia, or frankly, for anyone except the World Wide Leader. What is blatantly obvious, though, is he is a damn fine writer. Here is the ESPN The Magazine’s superstar’s take on Chip Kelly, LeSean McCoy and our beloved Iggles.

Continue reading “30 Yards and a Cloud of Dust.”