Head Coach Candidate Byron Leftwich: A True 'Player's Coach'?

Throughout the NFL hiring/firing season, the phrase "player's coach" is thrown around almost as often as the term "RPO." But in the case of Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, that term fits like a glove.

As one former player tells it, Leftwich makes a habit of getting the ball to players who have robust contract incentives on the line. And we're not talking about a few hundred bucks, a free case of Gatorade, or a voucher to the team shop. NFL players often have performance incentives that could pay out hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

LeSean McCoy, who played under Leftwich last season, reiterated Leftwich's stance on the I Am Athlete podcast: "He said, ‘Anyone got any incentives in your contract? If you do, let me know. I’ll try to get you your paper, because I’m all about that.'”

After he was selected in the first round of the 2003 Draft, Leftwich spent 10 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL before entering the coaching ranks. No doubt his former position and the incentives written into his own contract and those of his teammates give Leftwich a better understanding of current players and their desire to pile up otherwise meaningless stats.

McCoy remembered a specific time in Tampa when Leftwich dialed up unneeded pass plays in order to get receiver Mike Evans to 1,000 receiving yards.

“We played Detroit. The year was over, for real. We’re good, playoff berth and all that," said McCoy. "Mike’s out there trying to get 1,000 yards. I say, 'I love this type of coach. I respect it.'"

With plenty of head coaching vacancies across the league, current and former players are likely to vouch for Leftwich, who has so often had their back. You can bet on it.


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