It's been a long time since Raiders defensive lineman Gerald McCoy has played in a regular season football game. His opportunity comes tonight against the Baltimore Ravens and he penned a letter for The Players' Tribune detailing his emotions going into this matchup.
The former All-Pro defensive lineman had to go through last NFL season watching from the couch in his home with his family after he ruptured his quadriceps tendon in Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys. He endured a long rehabilitation process to once again play the game he does not take for granted.
"I've never missed a football season since I started playing at seven years old," McCoy wrote in the letter. "I've missed games. I've missed moments. But I've never missed a full season. So, that obviously came with a lot of dark days. A lot."
McCoy got through those dark days with the help of his wife and four children to lean on, saying his six-year-old son Gerald was excited as if "you would have thought it was Christmas morning" to hear his dad had a workout with the Raiders.
While having his children see him play was his biggest motivation to get back on the field, he knew as a 12-year veteran that he could bring his energy and leadership to a promising Raiders defensive line.
"All I'm trying to do is be a mentor to this talented group we got here ... and if they give me a couple snaps here and there, I'll take them. Heck yeah, I'll take them.
"I'm telling you, this group is about to catch a lot of people off-guard, catch a lot of people by surprise. People are not expecting what we're going to produce this year."
You can read the rest of McCoy's letter to Raider Nation here.