CFL All-Star defensive player Dexter McCoil Sr. is calling it a career, officially announcing his retirement from playing football. McCoil took to social media on Monday to thank everyone along the way during his playing days as he embarks on a new chapter in his life.
Dexter McCoil’s Football Journey
The Louisiana native, McCoil has had quite the journey as a football player since his days as a standout at the University of Tulsa.
McCoil, now 30, as a 6’4 220 linebacker, went undrafted coming out of college in 2014, despite being a second-team all-Conference USA player and being on the Jim Thorpe and Bronco Nagurski watch list while in school. The linebacker/safety hybrid struggled to find his spot in the pros because of his unique skill set.
After a brief stint with the Raiders in training camp during the preseason of 2014 as a rookie free agent, McCoil started his post-college playing path in the Arena Football League, signing on with the LA Kiss. McCoil was an immediate star in the indoor game, and it didn’t take long for CFL’s Edmonton to take notice and sign him.
McCoil made a significant impact up north as a rookie. He won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award in 2014, recording 67 tackles, four sacks, and tying for the league lead with six interceptions. McCoil was a natural fit in the Canadian game as a do-it-all coverage linebacker. In his first two years in Canada, McCoil was a back-to-back All-Star. McCoil helped Edmonton win a Grey Cup in 2015.
From The CFL To The NFL And Eventually Back Twice
McCoil Sr.’s exploits and versatility in Canada caught the attention of NFL teams.
On January 12, 2016, he signed with the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers utilized McCoil’s unique skill set at linebacker, safety, and on special teams. McCoil not only made the team’s roster out of camp, but he also ended up starting games for them. McCoil played in all 16 games with two starts, recording 25 tackles, five passes defended, and one interception.
From 2016-2019, McCoil would spend time with the Chargers and San Fransisco 49ers. Once that run was over, McCoil briefly returned to the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders before returning to play in the United States again, this time in the XFL with the wildly popular St. Louis BattleHawks.
In 5 games played with St.Louis in the XFL, McCoil finished tied for 3rd in the league in tackles. Playing alongside and mentoring young defensive teammates like Carolina Panthers fifth-round pick Kenny Robinson. Before the league’s season was ended prematurely due to COVID.
Eventually, Dexter McCoil would end up back where he always belonged. The place where he made his name and that best suited his talents, in Canada with the CFL. McCoil signed on with the Argos in 2021, and he made a significant impact on defense and special teams throughout the 2021 season. The CFL named McCoil a top performer in Week 10.
McCoil finished the 2021 campaign with 60 defensive tackles, nine special teams tackles, two sacks, and two interceptions in 11 games played. He scored a touchdown on one of those interceptions.
Heading into 2022, Dexter McCoil Sr. was considered one of the top available CFL free agents on the impending market. So for some, McCoil’s retirement comes as a surprise, considering how well he performed last season in Toronto.
The Argos needed McCoil last year. With linebackers Henoc Muamba and Cameron Judge, both missing time due to injuries. McCoil’s versatility proved to be worth its weight in gold. The Jack-of-all-trades defender is a defensive coordinator’s best friend. And based on how well, McCoil played in 2021. There’s no doubt that he would have provided excellent value for any CFL team.
Most pro football players don’t have their streets paved in gold. Less than two percent of all college football players make the National Football League every year. And even when they do, the average NFL career only lasts four seasons. On top of that, a tiny percentage of players end up playing in other leagues. Making it in Canada is not always easy because of the differences in the game and the ratio. The pro-playing options have always been limited for American-born players.
Most players have to create their own path and hope for some luck along the way.
For players like Dexter McCoil, who went undrafted, flipping the odds and the many hurdles in their way of having an extended pro career is very challenging. Dexter McCoil Sr. beat the odds and found his way everywhere that he was given a chance.
So it’s only right that he gets an opportunity to walk away on his own terms. Not every player gets that chance. The game usually closes the door on you. McCoil gets the luxury of starting his next chapter and path on his terms. He’s earned it.