Keith McCants, Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers Linebacker, Dead at 53

by Jonathan Howard

Sad news out of Pinellas County, Florida. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker, Keith McCants, was found dead at his home in St. Petersburg. 10 Tampa Bay is reporting that the county medical examiner confirmed the death. There will not be an autopsy available for some time.

However, according to a spokesperson for Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, “it appears to be a drug overdose.” McCants’ death has reverberated across his community already.

A local council member, Robert Blackmon, put out kind words following the news. “Keith meant everything to me. I would tell people he was my friend. My father…I would lovingly call him my 53-year-old son.”

During his career, Keith McCants played six seasons in the NFL. Born in Mobile, Alabama in 1968, he played for the state school. As a member of the Crimson Tide, he helped earned the nickname “Lineback U” along with Derrick Thomas and the rest of the LB unit. He had a lot of hype and matched that with his talent and hard work on the field.

Tampa Bay drafted McCants in the 1990 NFL Draft as the fourth overall pick in the first round. In his last season in college, he earned unanimous first-team All-American honors, was an SEC champion, First-team All-SEC, the National Defensive Player of the Year. Perhaps most important to Crimson Tide fans, he won the Iron Bowl MVP in 1989.

Remembering Keith McCants

Most people will remember Keith McCants for his exploits on the field. However, there was more to the former NFL player than that. Unfortunately, it seems that he had demons he struggled to battle. Robert Blackmon, the council member mentioned above, had many thoughts to share about his late friend that says a lot about who McCants was.

“He [McCants] needed extra help, due to all that he had endured in life. But I would always tell others how remarkable his demeanor was. If you truly knew Keith, one thing that would stand out to you was his patience. He rarely ever got truly upset…He wanted to see happiness on the face of those around him.” Blackmon included many memories and moments from McCants’ life.

With a career and a life such as Keith McCants had, there is no telling how many lives he touched. When mourning former professional athletes, it is hard not to think talk about their athletic exploits. However, it is important to remember the impact they had on those off the field and in their personal lives as well.

Blackmon is just one account of a personal relationship that McCants had. Those relationships will have a ripple effect on all the communities and people that have been impacted by the former linebacker. He had just begun a sports talk radio show in 2019 in the Tampa Bay area. With so much to offer and give, it is a tragedy to see him go at such an early age.

RIP to Keith McCants.