EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Colt McCoy grew up in Buffalo Gap, a West Texas town with fewer than 500 citizens located 200 miles from Dallas. Despite the distance, young Colt became a parishioner in one of the state's dominant religions.
"I was a big Cowboys fan, a big Troy Aikman fan," McCoy said today. "I kind of grew up in their glory days when they won all those Super Bowls. I think as a kid, if you love football, you kind of love the Cowboys growing up in Texas."
Given the rooting interest of his youth, McCoy does see irony that he is preparing for his seventh consecutive season playing for one of the Cowboys' fierce NFC East rivals. After six seasons with the Washington Redskins, McCoy last week signed as a free agent with the Giants to back up second-year quarterback Daniel Jones.
"I don't love the Cowboys anymore," McCoy confirmed. "I played for the Redskins and now I'm moving on to the Giants, so my Cowboys days are way in the past. I'm happy about it. My family, on the other hand, they still are just shaking their heads a little bit. But we're all good.
"I think they rooted for the Cowboys whenever they weren't playing the Redskins. Every time we played in Dallas, I had to get a lot of tickets for friends and family. I would tell them, 'If you wear blue and I find out, you're never coming back.' Now they can wear blue, but a different kind of blue."
McCoy has played in the NFL since joining the Cleveland Browns out of the University of Texas as a third-round draft choice in 2010. He has thrown for 6,080 yards and 29 touchdown passes in 40 career games. But after starting all 21 games in which he played his first two seasons, he has started just seven games since, including one last year.
Along the way, McCoy has learned exactly what it takes to be a good backup quarterback.
"It takes a lot," he said. "I think being a backup is hard. You put in a lot of time, and it may come down to one half during the whole season. I think it's a mind game within yourself. The most important thing is what I do during the week is all to help the starter. To help Daniel be prepared to go out and play his best and feel confident and be an extra coach in the quarterback room, an extra set of eyes and ears to really just be beneficial to him. To make sure he feels like he can go out and play to the best of his ability for the team. Secondly, I take on the responsibility of being ready to play in case something happens. That's my job and responsibility.
"I have a way of doing it, of approaching it. Yeah, we'd all like to be the starter, no doubt. I've been on both sides in my career. But I feel really good, I feel really strong, and I feel like I bring a lot of value. I know coach (Joe) Judge and coach (Jason) Garrett (the offensive coordinator) felt the same way."
View photos of quarterback Colt McCoy.
When the free agency signing period began, McCoy "was ready for a change and a new scene." He didn't know where that would lead him but didn't expect it to be East Rutherford. "I really didn't know anybody there," he said. But the more he talked to Judge and Garrett – with whom he was familiar from competing in the same division – the more he was convinced the Giants were the perfect fit.
"I look at it as a really cool challenge, to come in and learn and grow within a system that I haven't played in before, and to a team that has a lot of talent," McCoy said. "It has new coaches, they kind of have a new breath of life. I just kept coming back to this attraction that, 'You know what? I've been in a lot of systems before, and this just feels right.' (The coaches) talked to me about sort of their goals and their focus and their philosophy of how they see this playing out. I slept on it and prayed about it with my wife (Rachel), and every day felt more and more like this is what I'm supposed to do."
He is especially looking forward to working with Jones, whom he saw play twice in person last season. McCoy was on the Washington sideline on Dec. 22, when Jones became the first rookie in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, five touchdown passes and zero interceptions in a game in the Giants' 41-35 overtime victory.
"Being in the same division, you watch everybody's tape because you're playing the same opponents all year long," McCoy said. "I think for being a rookie, Daniel played great. I enjoyed watching him from afar. Daniel is super talented. I think there's a big jump to be made, but his future is so bright."
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented McCoy from meeting with Jones face-to-face, but the two players – who will be joined by veteran quarterback Alex Tanney – have begun to develop a partnership.
"Daniel and I have had several conversations," McCoy said. "I think most importantly, it's just 'Man, I know you had Eli (Manning) in there and you understand the value of a great quarterback room. I don't want that to change. I've got your back. I'm fully supportive of you. I want to just come in, help you grow, help you learn and help us as a team figure out how we can go out and win each week.' I think it's going to be real exciting.
"My biggest concern is that we're going to have to learn this offense together virtually amidst all the things going on in our world right now. That can be a real challenge. But we're up for it and we'll do our best to really do what we can until we can actually get up there together and grow as a football team."
McCoy has the added responsibility of moving his family – including five and three-year-old daughters and a 20-month-old son – from Austin to the metropolitan area.
"Growing up in far west Texas, I never thought I would live in New York," he said. "I don't know where I'm going to live yet. Probably whatever building or place I'll live will have more people than Buffalo Gap.
"But I'm excited about it. I feel a little bit rejuvenated…There is an excitement and a fire that I have that I hadn't felt in the last few years."