American Football Database
Keith McCants
No. 52, 78, 90     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1968-04-19) April 19, 1968 (age 54)
Place of birth: Mobile, Alabama
High School: Mobile (AL) Murphy
Height: 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Weight: 260 lb (118 kg)
Career information
College: Alabama
NFL Draft: 1990 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Debuted in 1990 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last played in 1995 for the Arizona Cardinals
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Member of 1988 Sun Bowl Championship Team
  • Unanimous First Team All-American (1989)(AP, UPI, WCFF, AFCA, FWAA, FN, TSN)
  • Playboy All-American Team (1989)
  • Butkus Award Runner Up (1989)
  • Member of 1989 Southeastern Conference Championship Team
  • Preseason All SEC Team (1989)[1]
  • All SEC Team (1989)
  • 1989 CBS TV National Defensive Player of the Year
  • Member of 1993 AFC Central Division Championship Team
  • 6th All time in single season tackles (119) for Alabama
Tackles     184
Sacks     13.5
Touchdowns     2
Stats at

Alvin Keith McCants (born April 19, 1968) is a former professional American football linebacker who played for six seasons in the National Football League for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Houston Oilers, and the Arizona Cardinals from 1990 to 1995. He was selected by Tampa Bay in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft.

High school career

McCants attended Murphy High School in Mobile, Alabama. As a senior, he amassed 130 tackles and 3 interceptions and was named to the 1986 1st Team All State Team. Additionally, McCants was named to the 1986 Alabama Sports Writers Association's Super 12 team, composed of the top 12 high school football players in the state.[2] McCants was also on the school's basketball team, and helped lead them to the state tournament both his freshman and senior year.[3]

College career

A college standout at the University of Alabama, McCants had a number of accolades bestowed upon him including being named a 1989 Unanimous First Team All-American (AP, UPI, WCFF,[4] AFCA, FWAA, FN, TSN) and a 1989 Butkus Award Runner-up.[5] He was a member of the 1990 Sugar Bowl team and was named the National Defensive Player of the Year in 1989 by CBS.[6] In 1988 as a sophomore, McCants finished second on the team with 78 tackles, second only to Derrick Thomas. Additionally, McCants recorded the most tackles on the team four times during the 1988 regular season, against Tennessee (8), Mississippi State (14), Auburn (17), and Texas A&M (11).[7][8] The Texas A&M game, dubbed the Hurricane Bowl, was originally to take place September 17, but Alabama head coach Bill Curry refused to travel to College Station due to the threat posed by Hurricane Gilbert.[9] The Tide ended the season with a win against Army in the 1988 Sun Bowl, in which McCants had a game-high 13 tackles.[10]

In 1989, he led the Crimson Tide with 119 tackles and 4 sacks. After Alabama's victory against Tennessee, McCants was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week by the league office[11] for his 16 tackles and two sacks. Three weeks later, he was named Sports Illustrated defensive player of the week after totaling 18 tackles in an Alabama victory over LSU. In the last game of the 1989 regular season against Auburn, dubbed the Iron Bowl, McCants was named the CBS Player of the Game for Alabama with 18 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. A high point for the Tide from the game was McCants' display of "incredible athletic talent" in running down Auburn receiver Shane Wasden from behind and preventing a touchdown.[6] Additionally, it was the second straight Iron Bowl in which McCants led the Tide in tackles, combining for 35 total between the 1988 and 1989 matchups. Even with the loss to Auburn, Alabama would still claim the title of 1989 SEC Champions, the school’s first conference title since 1981. In the 1990 Sugar Bowl, #7 ranked Alabama faced #2 ranked Miami. Alabama lost the game 25-33, and with the win Miami became the 1989 National Champions; it would be McCants last collegiate game before declaring for the NFL Draft.

Among a number of individual honors, McCants finished his college career with 197 total tackles, including 16 tackles for a loss.[12] Additionally, McCants 119 tackles that year puts him tied for 6th all time for tackles in a single season by an Alabama player.[13] The February 12th, 1990 issue of Sports Illustrated ran an article that focused on McCants titled "The Young and the Restless", that profiled his and other college juniors' eventually successful attempts to declare for the NFL Draft before their senior season, a then-uncommon practice.[14][15] In December 2010, Bleacher Report named McCants the 33rd greatest player in Alabama Crimson Tide History.[16]

Professional career

McCants was for a time expected to be the first player selected in the 1990 NFL draft, but the Atlanta Falcons backed off due to rumors of knee trouble and allegations that his family had been paid money by a sports agent while he was still in college.[17] Still, McCants strength and 4.51 second time in the 40-yard dash[18] guaranteed he would still be a high pick, if not #1. After being drafted fourth overall by the Buccaneers in 1990, McCants signed a 5 year, $7.4 million deal with the team, including a then-record $2.5 million cash signing bonus.[19][20] A highly touted prospect, McCants rookie card by Score quoted former Kentucky head coach Jerry Claiborne as saying "Keith is one of the best football players I have ever seen. Have you ever seen a linebacker as big as he is? I never have. He looks like an elephant and he runs like a deer". Buccaneers coach Ray Perkins, McCants' former college coach, said that "He plays like he is never out of the play. That is an intensity level I like".[21]

Floyd Peters was brought to the Bucs in 1991, and converted McCants from a linebacker to defensive end. Although McCants resisted the change, Peters convinced him that with time he could become a success story along the lines of Chris Doleman, another Peters conversion.[22] Although McCants was not fond of the move, he did have some success, as he led the Buccaneers in 1991 with 34 quarterback pressures and recorded 5 sacks, prompting Patrick Zier of the New York Times to remark "considering the circumstances, McCants first year was a success. . .despite having to learn an entirely new position"[23] McCants continued to build upon his experience and was second on the Buccaneers in sacks (5) and quarterback pressures (21) in 1992. Eventually, Tampa Bay cut him during their 1993 training camp.

In 1993 while with the Houston Oilers, McCants stepped in to separate Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride when Ryan punched Gilbride in the face following an Oilers fumble.[24] That season, the Oilers would go on to finish 1st in the AFC Central Division, sending them to their seventh straight postseason, and McCants first. When asked what it meant to go to the playoffs, McCants replied, "Let me tell you something, this is big-time. This is football. . .I haven't had a winning season since I left college, and it feels great to win again."[25] In 1994, McCants went to the Cardinals, following Buddy Ryan to Arizona after he was named head coach. In a game against the Chicago Bears, McCants picked off Steve Walsh and ran back a 46-yard touchdown; it was the Cardinals' longest interception return of the season.[26] In 1995 McCants scored his second NFL touchdown, on a fumble recovery against the Seattle Seahawks.

Personal life

McCants and Emmitt Smith became friends while both playing in the SEC in college, with both being named to the 1989 All American team. Smith twice called McCants for advice leading up to his decision to announce for the 1990 Draft.[27] According to her biography, while still a child WNBA player Lindsey Harding was inspired by a footrace with McCants to enter the world of sports.[28] McCants recently launched his own website,, which he plans on using as a platform to present his take on topical football and sports commentary. He now maintains a Twitter account and Facebook fan page as well.

After leaving the NFL, McCants, who studied Criminal Justice while at the University of Alabama, became the first black marine police officer in the state of Alabama. Working for the Department of Conservation and Natural resources, Conservation Commissioner Riley Boykin Smith said at the time that "he hopes McCants will become the first of many minorities who take advantage of the opportunities to work for his department". [9], [10]

McCants is also an avid scuba diver, having done dives all around the coast of Florida and the Caribbean. [11]

Media Appearances

He appeared in the 2012 episode "Broke," part of ESPN's 30 for 30 series of sports documentaries. The premiere of "Broke" attracted 2.7 million viewers, an all-time ESPN record.[29]

McCants has become a semi-frequent guest on HuffPost Live, having appeared on the program five times.[30][31][32][33] [34] Three of the appearances were with host Marc Lamont Hill.

McCants was the guest for the September 21st, 2012 episode of Dan Lebatard is Highly Questionable.[35]

On September 24, 2012 he appeared as a guest on the The Adam Carolla Show alongside Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees.[36]

In December 2012, McCants appeared on "Tailgating with Kato", Kato Kaelin's sports-themed television talk show

He has also appeared on WALA-TV Fox 10 a number of times, with segments including "The Interview"[37] and "Studio 10".[38]

McCants was featured in sportswriter Gregg Easterbrook's book "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America" released in October 2013.

Legal troubles

According to a May 15, 2011 Tampa Tribune article, since 2002 McCants has had three convictions on charges of possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia.[39] The article goes on to detail how, since his last new arrest in December 2010, "McCants said he has been clean and doesn't believe he has a drug-addiction problem."


  1. Harlan Daily Enterprise - Google News Archive Search
  2. Alabama High School Football Player Bios
  3. The Tuscaloosa News - Google News Archive Search
  4. All-America Teams | Walter Camp Football Foundation
  5. Keith McCants, Alabama Crimson Tide, Football, Where Are They Now? |
  6. 6.0 6.1
  9. Tri City Herald - Google News Archive Search
  10. Record-Journal - Google News Archive Search
  11. Gadsden Times - Google News Archive Search
  14. Alabama linebacker Keith McCants heads a group of some - 02.12.90 - SI Vault
  15. University of Kentucky Men's Basketball Programs
  16. The 50 Greatest Players In Alabama Crimson Tide Football History | Bleacher Report
  17. Associated Press. "Falcons sour on McCants, want George with top pick". The Gadsden Times. 11 Apr 1990.
  18. Portsmouth Daily Times - Google News Archive Search
  19. Observer-Reporter - Google News Archive Search
  20. Buccaneers Sign Keith McCants for $7.4 Million - Los Angeles Times
  21. Pino, Mark. "McCants signs, gets serious about football". The Ocala Star-Banner. 13 Jul 1990
  23. Gadsden Times - Google News Archive Search
  24. Buddy Ryan punching Kevin Gilbride‏ on YouTube
  25. McCants' move%3A castoff to playoffs
  26. Arizona Cardinals Stats at
  27. NewsBank for AJC |
  28. Lindsey Harding | Actor Profile | Resume | Photos
  29. [1]
  30. [2]
  31. [3]
  32. [4]
  33. [5]
  34. [6]
  35. Video on YouTube
  36. [7]
  37. Video on YouTube
  38. [8]
  39. Johnston, Joey. "Former Bucs player McCants is broke, suffering", The Tampa Tribune, May 15th, 2011

External links