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LeSean McCoy Snow Bowl 1920 092921

'I still have that green inside my heart'

The franchise's all-time leading rusher will retire an Eagle on Friday. He explains what the fans and the organization mean to him.

By LeSean McCoy

After 12 years in the NFL, I've decided to retire an Eagle because this is home to me. I still have that green inside my heart. There are times when I'd see the Eagles on TV, and it just felt weird not wearing that uniform. I instantly think back to all of those big games and the roar of the fans; I've just always seen myself as an Eagle. It's only right to come back home and retire an Eagle.

I've had some time to reflect on my career and how it unfolded. A lot of credit goes to my family. I truly believe it. My parents raised me to chase my dreams. I know growing up in Harrisburg a lot of kids had the same types of dreams, but I'm not sure if they really chased them. My father, Ron, taught me how to be a true man and sacrifice for his family. My mother, Daphne, is the rock of the family. She kept us together through good times and bad. She's the one I still go to when I have questions. She means everything to me. I'm thankful for two great parents.

My older brother, LeRon, was my role model growing up. To this day, he's still coaching me, still pushing me never to be complacent. Even after my Pro Bowl seasons, he was still on me. But that's what drove me to be the best I could be. He was on me when I was 10 years old. He was on me when I was 22, 23 years old. We still have a great tight bond.

I'm retiring because I'm at peace mentally. The only regret I've ever had was not spending my entire career as an Eagle. I look at guys like Jason Kelce and Larry Fitzgerald, lifelong friends of mine, who spent their whole career with one team. I grew up in Harrisburg, played my college football at Pittsburgh, and was drafted by the Eagles. I never thought it would have been like that, but it would have been so cool to finish my career only having played in this one state.

Philadelphia, you embraced me from day one, welcomed me in with open arms both on and off the field. It's a special place for me and always will be. To retire as an Eagle and be an Eagle for life is really important to me. I can't wait to see everyone this Sunday. I love Philadelphia because I came from that type of environment. Philly can be tough. You demand a lot from us, but I loved that. I like a challenge. If you're not happy, I always looked at it as, "Let's respond and find a way to play better."

Eagles fans just want to see that competitive nature out of their players, which I wanted to give. I always – always! – played for you. I always wanted to put on a show. I loved every minute of it. I wish I never left. When I went to other cities, my name was already established. I had to earn it in Philadelphia. Going back there when I was with Buffalo was emotionally tough. I've got a lot of love for the City of Philadelphia, and for you, the fans. When my kids get older, I can tell them that I played there and had a lot of great times, great memories.

When the Eagles had the championship run in 2017, I was cheering for them. It was bittersweet because I would have loved to have been there. Watching them as a kid, they were so, so close for many years. It would have meant so much more for me to help get them over the top. When I saw the celebrations on Broad Street, I felt it. I felt that adrenaline. It hurt because it made me wish that all of my big accomplishments were there that much more. I think about what it would have been like to win a Super Bowl with the Eagles all the time.

One of the coolest things about being an Eagle was that it felt like a real home. Everyone in that building was part of a family. Mr. Lurie and I have always had a great relationship and still do to this day. Howie was a part of the group that drafted me. He really stuck his neck out for me, taking me in the second round. We still communicate all of the time, and it's going to be great to see him.

Coach Reid will be on the other sideline. I've been texting with him all week. I'm so thankful for him. He took a shot on a 20-year-old kid who people said wasn't big enough, wasn't explosive enough. I thank him so much for that. We've always maintained a strong relationship. I love him. When he left, it was very tough for me because of my belief in him. It all worked out. He helped me get a championship. He's doing great things in Kansas City. I'm happy I'll be able to see him as well as the coaches and trainers and former teammates.

Jeremy Maclin is coming out this weekend. He's still one of my best friends. I remember watching him in college at Missouri thinking this dude is so good. We had a friendly rivalry because even though he was the first-round pick and I was the second, I didn't want him to outshine me. I always wanted people talking about us together, like a dynamic duo.

You might think the Snow Bowl was my favorite moment as an Eagle, but it wasn't. It was the Miracle at the Meadowlands in 2010. I didn't have a lot of stats because we were down by so much, but I loved making big blocks to help my teammates out. That's what was needed at the time and I look back at that game with so much pride. Everyone on that team was willing to put their egos to the side. Winning was the main goal.

Don't get me wrong, the Snow Bowl was so much fun. I remember being on the field when it started snowing and by the time we came out for kickoff, there were just piles of snow. In those situations, you just have to win by any means necessary. Find a way to get it done. It was snowing, but I could still cut for some reason. Thankfully every time I got hit, the snow made it feel like landing on pillows.

I haven't thought about what this weekend will be like. I just want to seize every moment and let it flow. I know it's going to be emotional to hear you cheering for me one more time, yelling and screaming your hearts out. Just being on the grass at the Linc is going to bring out a lot of memories. If we can get the win, it'll be even better.

Take a look at the best photos of LeSean McCoy during his Eagles career.

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