He holds records, both national and global. He has enjoyed as much success in American football as any Englishman could ever imagine. He has a Super Bowl ring. But there is one thing Scott McCready treasures above all else: his family.
McCready, a former USF football player from 1997-2000, is in his fourth season in NFL Europe as a wide receiver for the Hamburg Sea Devils. Born in London, McCready has made NFL stops in New England and Carolina before moving onto NFL Europe squads in Scotland and Hamburg, Germany. All the while, McCready has made several trips to NFL camps in the United States to try out for NFL teams. But as the journeyman’s career begins to wind down, McCready, who has a wife and two sons, is trying to balance family and football.
“So much of living out of suitcases with this whole thing,” McCready said. “Never really getting to set up a home base, it makes it quite difficult. That’s probably the hardest part about the whole thing.”
From being a player coach Jim Leavitt called “one of our most reliable players” and “just a very, very good receiver,” McCready earned a Super Bowl ring with the New England Patriots in 2001 and even led NFL Europe with 59 receptions for 472 yards and one touchdown as a member of the Scottish Claymores in 2004. McCready has arguably enjoyed as much success in his football career as any other former USF football player. Sea Devils coach Jack Bicknell hoped that before this season began, he would gladly see the last of McCready.
“I thought last year would be to be his last year (in NFL Europe) because he was going to go on and make it in the NFL – or not make it in the NFL and get on with his life,” Bicknell said.
A preseason knee injury forced McCready to rethink his plans.
“Last year I was thinking it was going to be my last year in NFL Europe,” McCready said. “As soon as the injury happened, the first thing I said was, ‘I’m not going to go out like this. This is not going to be the end.'”
Bicknell recognizes the importance of this year for McCready.
“He’s getting at an age with a wife and two kids, that this is probably his last opportunity to legitimately make it to the NFL,” Bicknell said.
Bicknell also added that he believes McCready “hasn’t lost a step due to the injury,” but more than this year being McCready’s “last shot,” it also means one more year for his family to be on the road with him.
McCready’s family is in Glasgow, Scotland, until he returns to Hamburg on March 9. But according to McCready, one more year is all right with his family.
“Obviously it has its negatives – they haven’t had their own room for three years,” McCready said. “We do the best we can; they seem to be pretty well adjusted. I mean, the kids don’t really care; they have a great time whenever we’re around the team – it’s like they have 50 uncles or something.”
McCready is one of 24 former USF players to at least make it to a practice squad on an NFL team. Bicknell said NFL Europe is usually a player’s best hope to make it to the big leagues.
“This is sort of their – I don’t want to say last chance – but it’s their big chance,” Bicknell said. “And if they blow this one, they’re not going to get another opportunity.”
It isn’t unusual, Bicknell said, for players to bring their families along with them for their “big chance.”
“They try to bring (their families) over – if they can afford to – and have them stay in the hotel, which is fine with me,” Bicknell said. “It’s better for them, and there’s nothing wrong with having little kids around. It’s like a day care center over there sometimes.”
But Bicknell isn’t worried about his players losing focus while having their families on the road.
“Some people say, ‘They’re not focused on football.’ I say, ‘Like heck they’re not,'” Bicknell said. “They’re more focused than they ever would be if they were wondering what their family was doing at home.”
McCready said having his family along gives him extra incentive to play harder.
“The thing that really gets me going more than anything is to try and provide for my family,” he said. “If I can do something to earn enough money to set my kids up, to give them some kind of opportunity that I didn’t have – not that I didn’t have opportunities – everyone wants it better for their kids than they had.”
While McCready is hoping to make the most of his “big chance” and his top priority is to take care of his family, he also wants to go out a winner.
“I play and practice to win. I don’t like getting beaten no matter what I do. I don’t want it to sound like I’m only trying to play for money, that’s not what it is. I still love playing the game, but as far as motivation goes, my family’s a big motivator for me.”
His family – and perhaps another Super Bowl ring.
“I’ve got two boys, and they’ll be fighting over it if I don’t get another one.”