by Brenton Crozier
There are several different storylines that one could cite when discussing Scotty McGee, the Jaguars rookie punt returner. His football story includes ESPN highlight-reel returns from his college days at James Madison and unlikely 6th round draft selection by the Jaguars, a gripping life story about his murdered brother when he was only 16 that largely molded who he is today and his fast-paced past that saw him racing Percy Harvin on a weekly basis. But it only took seconds to find out what Scotty is about, that he is a man of deep faith and a player with a clear mission.
EU: What was your first impression of Jacksonville as a city?
SM: It’s really hot. As far as the community, the fans are great. When I first got here, the way they got behind the team really excited me and I’m looking forward to bringing some excitement. I want to bring enthusiasm out on the field.
EU: How do you spend your downtime?
SM: Mainly my downtime consists of me spending time with God. Getting prayed up and praying for others, my family. My wife’s not here with me. I just learned how to use Skype so I talk to her regularly. That makes it easier with the distance.
EU: So faith is a central part of your life?
SM: It’s the nucleus. It’s amazing some of the things He’s brought me through. He’s the reason I got drafted. According to the Mel Kippers and according to the polls and everything, I wasn’t on any radars. But I believed in my heart and it wasn’t something He showed me in His spirit, so I stuck with it. I was telling people I was going to get drafted. And they were like, “I don’t see anything about you anywhere.” I even received scrutiny at my college in regards to it- “He’s running around telling people he’s going to get drafted.” And it worked out.
EU: Fill in the blank, if I weren’t a professional football player, I’d be ___________________.
SM: I’d probably be in ministry. I’m in ministry right now. You know God has given me this huge platform to let people know that you can be at this level of play and have a relationship with God.
EU: Do you have a nickname?
SM: I’ve got a few. In the locker room I’ve heard some of the guys say Preacher Boy, Pastor, stuff like that. It’s funny around here. Minister. “What’s up, Minister” and I’m just like, “These guys are crazy.” In college they called me Sco, like short for Scotty, but also like scoring touchdowns.
EU: Is faith a challenge in this environment?
SM: It is a challenge, but at the same time, I find myself on the way to work praying that God keeps me throughout the day to day and just allow me to have that focus that’s needed in the meeting room and out on the field. Because you can easily get consumed by some of the things that are going on around you.
EU: When was the last time you raced Percy Harvin?
SM: Ten years, maybe.
EU: Have you talked to Percy recently?
SM: We haven’t talked lately, but I talked to his mom when that situation with him passing out happened. He congratulated me on being drafted. I figure I’ll see him in the playoffs and we can talk then.
EU: Who won the last race?
SM: I believe I did (laughing). Actually, I think he won. We used to race every weekend. We had games on Saturdays, and after the games we’d be out there and everybody would be around waiting for Percy and Scotty to race. We would go back and forth and would probably race four or five times. He’d win, then I’d win, he’d win, then I’d win.
EU: What is your hope for this season?
SM: I realize now that I’m definitely more than capable of playing at this level and helping the team win. The way that I’ll do that is through filed position. If I can take a return from the one yard line out to the 45, that’s four first downs they don’t have to worry about.
EU: What type of involvement are you looking to have in the Jacksonville community?
SM: I’m looking forward to getting involved. At the rookie symposium they taught us that during your first year you want to focus on what you need to establish for yourself. But I’m definitely looking forward to reaching out in the community. Not only from a Christian standpoint, but also in areas like victims of crime. I’ve had a lot of things that have gone on in my life, love ones that I’ve lost in regards to that.
EU: What’s your prediction for the Jaguars this season?
SM: I don’t want to speak too soon, but I think we’re going to have a lot success. We all push each other. During the summer, the conditioning we did, it was vigorous. It was something I’ve never experienced before, but it’s paid dividends. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.
Scotty told me that he thinks of the field as God’s temple and that he wants to bring glory to Him when he’s out there. And I’m sure the congregation assembled at Everbank Field will offer up some “praise Gods” when he turns on the afterburners and helps the Jags win. But even more so, it’s comforting seeing that Jaguars practice the “character matters” philosophy. Scotty McGee is the type of guy that has the potential to bring a whole lot more than speed to the community. And additional confirmation to Scotty that God wanted him playing for the Jags? His wife is due with twins in the team’s bye week. Jacksonville, meet the providential punt returner.