Former Packers standout Mike McCoy visits Fr. Allouez Catholic School

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | October 12, 2016

McCoy shares stories from playing days, tells youth to make good decisions

ALLOUEZ — Former Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy hung up his cleats more than 35 years ago, but at 6’5” and 310 pounds, he still resembles in stature the first round draft pick who pressured quarterbacks and corralled ball carriers. McCoy, who played 11 seasons in the NFL, seven with the Packers, returned to his first pro football home on Oct. 5 to speak to students at the Resurrection Campus of Fr. Allouez Catholic School. His presentation, “Champions for Today,” is designed to empower young people to make better decisions in their lives.

McCoy, who now lives in Ponte Vedra, Fla., speaks to Catholic school students throughout the country as part of Mike McCoy Ministries. He fittingly donned his number 76 Packers jersey for the talk. He also wears his number 77 University of Notre Dame jersey for school visits. A highlight video chronicled McCoy’s family life, NFL career, seasons for the Fighting Irish and his high school years at Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pa.

Former Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy poses for group photos with students at the Resurrection Campus of Fr. Allouez Catholic School in Allouez. McCoy spoke at the school on Oct. 12 about using our gifts and talents from God and making good choices in life. He travels throughout the country giving presentations at Catholic schools as part of Mike McCoy Ministries. (Jeff Kurowski | The Compass)
Former Packers defensive tackle Mike McCoy poses for group photos with students at the Resurrection Campus of Fr. Allouez Catholic School in Allouez. McCoy spoke at the school on Oct. 12 about using our gifts and talents from God and making good choices in life. He travels throughout the country giving presentations at Catholic schools as part of Mike McCoy Ministries. (Jeff Kurowski | The Compass)

Looking back at his time with the Packers, McCoy told a story about a collision he had with Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton during a Monday Night Football game against the Bears. Payton cut back on a run and was one-on-one against McCoy.

“I closed my eyes. Walter fell down. I fell down,” he explained. “Walter got up. I didn’t get up. I was knocked out for about 90 seconds.”

When McCoy was assisted to the sideline, he feared that he lost sight in his left eye. The trainer told him to “relax and turn your helmet around.” The collision with Payton caused his helmet to move and block his vision.

McCoy didn’t start playing football until he was a sophomore in high school.

“When I was in fifth grade, I was 5’6” and 185 pounds,” he said. “I was so big and overweight that I couldn’t play football. I was trying to survive growing up on the east side of Erie. In seventh and eighth grade, I started playing a little basketball and baseball.”

Football at Cathedral Prep, an all-boys Catholic high school, helped McCoy physically and academically, he added. He encouraged the students to use their gifts.

“God gives each one of us unique talents and gifts,” he said. “Maybe it’s sports, maybe it’s English, maybe it’s writing, the arts, music. Write those goals down, be specific and put a timeline on these things you want to accomplish. I think that one of the greatest words in the English language is perseverance. Never ever give up.”

McCoy pointed to Scripture from Jeremiah — “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb” (1:5) — to emphasize the need to make good choices in order to honor talents from God.

“This tremendous gift from God comes with tremendous responsibility,” he said. “It’s called our free will, our ability to make choices in life. I call it the three Ds: Decisions determine our destiny.”

To illustrate poor choices that can derail a person’s future, McCoy positioned four chairs on the gym floor. The first three symbolized what he calls SAD: Sex, Alcohol, Drugs. The fourth chair represented friends, which McCoy said “can be a landmine or a safe haven.” McCoy spoke about the good friends in his life, including some he met in eighth grade who are still friends today.

“A friend is someone who cares enough about you that they want what’s best for you,” he explained. “A friend is someone who says nice things behind your back.”

During his freshman year at Notre Dame, McCoy made a poor choice. He accompanied some teammates to a tavern where he consumed a great deal of alcohol in a short period of time.

“That was the first time I had ever done that,” he said. “I passed out. I had no idea how I got back to my dorm room. I woke up the next day not feeling very well. I put on blinders called denial. I took baby steps down that path to destruction.”

McCoy had witnessed destruction in his family. His mother, who started smoking at age 12, was addicted to nicotine. She tried to stop many times, but was unable.

“Cancer ravaged her body, and she died at a very young age, 65,” said McCoy.

His father struggled with alcoholism. When McCoy was in fourth or fifth grade, they lost their home and had to move in with his grandparents.

“There was a lot of conflict,” he said. “Twinkies and milkshakes were my comfort foot. I had my faith. I had my school. There were still a lot of things going on when I was in eighth grade and I decided that I didn’t want to live that way.”

Even though McCoy achieved great success on the field, including becoming a Consensus All-American and finishing sixth in the Heisman voting as a senior at Notre Dame, alcohol was present in his life and he believed that it would have developed into a problem. When he arrived in Green Bay, wide receiver Carroll Dale became a close friend.

“Carroll Dale helped me to take the blinders off. He said, ‘Mike, why don’t you come to chapel we have in the National Football League?’ I attended Mass on Saturday night,” said McCoy.

He also spoke about the son of a friend who has struggled with drug abuse. When addressing sexuality, McCoy recommended that the students check out “True Love Waits.”

“In this organization, (young people) sign a pledge card to be abstinent until marriage,” he explained. “It’s a choice they make. These young people have empowered themselves. They are in charge of who they are. They don’t have to worry about anyone else. They understand that God has a plan for them.”

McCoy donated copies of a book about his late wife, Kia, to the school and church. The book, “Angel on Ice, A Mother’s Legacy of Trusting God’s Sovereignty” — written by his son, Caleb — follows Kia’s cancer journey. Kia, a figure skater, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2012 and died a year later. She was the niece of Fr. William Spalding, a late priest of the Diocese of Green Bay. While in Green Bay, Mike and Kia wrote a marriage column for The Register, newspaper for the Diocese of Green Bay at the time.

McCoy, now married to his wife of two years, Eileen, plans to return to Catholic schools in the Diocese of Green Bay next year. Unfortunately, he had to cancel his remaining appearances scheduled for this trip to return to Florida due to Hurricane Matthew. For more information about Mike McCoy Ministries, visit www.mccoy77.com.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top