Press Pass: Keenan McCardell

Former Buc Keenan McCardell returns this weekend to Tampa Bay with Washington. Find out his thoughts on his career, his candid comments on his holdout in Tampa Bay and why he still loves the Bay Area in his edition of "Press Pass."

Q: Keenan, tell me about the emotions going through your mind as you prepare to return to Tampa this week?

A: It's going to be fun to go back to Ray Jay. I'm looking forward to playing there. I went back there in the preseason (with Houston) and the fans were great. I just like playing in that stadium. There's something about that stadium that I like. So I'm looking forward to it. It's going to count now

Q: Still have a lot of friends here?

A: Yeah, I have a lot of friends there. Right now everyone's like, ‘So, you're coming back home?' And I'm like, ‘Yeah, but it's going to be fun.'

Q: Are you going to be able to keep your focus on the field and not allow your personal feelings toward the franchise to mess with that?

A: I am. I kind of closed that chapter in my football career a long time ago. I just let that be. After we had our grievance and the arbitration said what he said, I just had to close it. I was glad to close it. Sometimes that gets nagging and I'm not letting it nag me anymore.

Q: Keenan what were you doing before the Redskins picked you up?

A: I had some "Honey-Do's" I was doing, you know? I was working out and doing Honey-Do's. I was glad to get of that Honey-Do list.

Q: Did it go through your mind after everything you accomplished on the field that this might be it for you, you might not get picked up again?

A: Not really. I knew I could play. During preseason I wasn't healthy. So I just wanted to get healthy because I thought if I could do that I could help a team. I just wanted to come in and play. I'm blessed that I can play and I'm just glad to be back in the fold.

Q: I know you're not surprised watching the Bucs on tape that they're playing some defense again.

A: No doubt. That's what wins there. That defense is playing well and it's setting up a lot of things for that offense. Jeff (Garcia) is managing the game well for them on offense, and if it's not there they'll punt and play defense. They can flop the field that way. It's similar to the way we were playing in '02.

Q: Keenan, Joey Galloway was quick to remind us today that you are older than he is. But at the same time, what are the traits of guys like yourself, Garcia and Galloway. What is it that allows you to get to a certain age but you're still able to produce. What's the common denominator?

A: You guys all think that age is a thing. It's not really that. It's your passion and your love for the game. These guys love the game as much as I do, and when they don't love it they know when they need to walk away. Jon (Gruden) always used to say, ‘Do you love football?' One time I was like, ‘That's a little too much.' But I went home one night and thought about it and said, ‘That's the truth. You have to love this game to play this game.' To play as long as we play, when you love it you can play as long as you want. You're going to keep yourself in shape and you're going to do the things you need to to win.

Q: What do you see for the future for Jason Cambpell? I imagine you've seen him develop in the short time you've been there.

A: He's got a big future ahead of him. He's going to go out and do the things he needs to do to help this team win and be a successful franchise for a long time.

Q: Keenan, how long did it take you to get over the dispute with the Bucs?

A: There was some bitterness up until I had to write a check. Once I wrote the check back to them, it was over honestly. I wrote that check and my agent said, ‘Are you sure that you want to write it now?' I said, ‘Yes, I want to get this bitter taste out of my mouth and show (them) no ill will.' You can't hate anybody for things that went on. It's all business. I just moved on. Once I wrote the check, it was over.

Q: Keenan I asked Gruden about an hour ago to describe you as a player and he said how big a part of that championship team you were as a captain. He said they wouldn't have won it without you. When you look back at your career, all the coaches you've been through, what strikes you about Gruden?

A: He's a helluva coach, to be honest with you. He's probably the best offensive coach I've been around. He's a guy that believes in matchups. He's finding a defense's weaknesses and he's going to exploit it. I understood a lot of football before I got there. But once I got there I understood how much matchups really play a role in this game. He just points it out. If you're a football player that doesn't have a high football I.Q. he's going to blow your mind. If you sit there and listen to him and study, you'll become a high I.Q. football player. So he has probably the best football I.Q. that I've ever seen.

Q: Keenan what do you remember about 1991, way back when the Redskins drafted you?

A: How fun was that? We won a Super Bowl there, too. I learned how to be a professional and how to play this game. I had to learn to go out and take my time and understand this game and learn how to play at this level. Right now I'm back here and it's almost like I never left. Some of the guys that were here in 1991 are here now and it's good to show them what they taught me back then and that I can play football.

Q: If you were to walk away from the game in a couple of years and say you're at a podium. What hat would you put on? Jaguars? Bucs?

A: You know what? Let's wait until that time comes. I'm not even thinking about that time, stepping up to a podium right now. It's one of those things where I'm playing well right now and feeling good. I think people forget that I started last year. It's not like I didn't start and was a third guy. I started the majority of the year last year, so I still have that starter's blood in my mouth. So I feel I can make the plays and last week showed that I just need opportunities. When the time comes for me to walk to that podium, I don't know. I might have four hats on. But I'm not thinking about it right now.

Q: Keenan, despite everything that went on with the Bucs, talk about your time here and your thoughts on Tampa Bay?

A: You know what? I had great teammates there, probably the best chemistry of teams that I've had except for Jacksonville. We had great teams in Jacksonville, we just never could get over the hump. In Tampa we had guys that when it came crunch time we could look in each other's eyes and ask a lot of each other. I need this from you and we delivered for each other. I have a whole bunch of friends that live in Tampa when I was on that team. We all bought into the whole thing. We knew we had a good team and we knew we weren't going to do anything to mess it up. I enjoy being in Tampa.

Q: Keenan, how do you rectify in your mind how Jon (Gruden) one hand would treat you like a brother, and then on the other hand Bruce (Bucs GM Allen) would play hardball with you over money you thought you deserved after you helped them win a championship?

A: It's business. I can't even lie to you. It was about business both ways. It was business for them and it was business for me. So I felt like I needed something and they felt like they didn't want to give it to me. So I had to stand my course and they stood their course. They stood their ground and I stood mine. In the end, they got some draft picks, I got a new deal in San Diego. I had a good time in San Diego. I wish it had been better. It was just business. Sometimes you have to stand up for principle and that's what I did.

Q: Keenan, in retrospect would you advise anyone else to go up against Bruce Allen in a similar situation or do you think it's probably not a winning gamble?

A: He's going to do everything in his power under the CBA to enforce every rule. As a player the only way you can get what you want if you think you need it is to hold out. So it is what it is. If you feel like doing that, that's you. You have to know who you're dealing with when you go into the situation. You have to know they're going to stand their ground. I knew Bruce. My agent knew Bruce. They were good friends. He (my agent) told me, ‘He's not going to back down.' So I said, ‘Well, you know me too, so I'm not going to back down.' (Laughter in background)

Q: Very good. Thanks Keenan. We'll see you on Sunday.

A: Who was that laughing back there?

Q: Chris Harry from the Orlando Sentinel.

A: Hey, Chris knows I wasn't backing down. He thought I was going to fold my tent. He was the only one who was folding my tent. (more laughter). You should have asked (CBSSportsline's) Pete Prisco. He would have told you guys.

Q: Bruce is back here laughing too, Keenan (Allen was not in the room).

A: Tell Bruce I said hello.


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