Go here to listen to the second part of the interview.
You may not realize it, but you've seen Kevin Dyson play football.
The veteran wide receiver, signed by the Redskins last month, was a key participant in two of the most famous NFL plays of the last decade. Both occurred during the 1999 playoffs when he was playing for the Tennessee Titans. In the opening round, Dyson was the recipient of Frank Wycheck's lateral and scored the touchdown that beat the Bills in the play dubbed the Music City Miracle.
The momentum from that play helped carry the wild card Titans all the way to the Super Bowl, where they faced the mighty Rams. A late Titan rally almost sent the game into overtime. On the game's final play with Tennessee down by seven and snapping the ball at the Rams 10, Dyson caught a short slant from Steve McNair and thought he was headed for the end zone. But linebacker Mike Jones caught him and brought him down at the one. For Dyson, it was the proverbial close, but no cigar.
"I don't know, it seemed like it was a mile away," said Dyson recently. "At that point in time it seemed like I was on the 50 yard line; so close but yet so far."
While they happened quite some time ago—the Music City Miracle play happened moments before the Redskins last home playoff game—the plays are still something that Dyson takes a degree of pride in. "Some of the younger players, they started realizing who I was," he said, smiling. "They want to talk about that Music City Miracle. I haven't had the storybook career of Jerry Rice or Chris Carter but my name will always be remembered because of some of that Super Bowl and other games I played in."
The Redskins, of course, didn't sign Dyson because of plays that happened six years ago. They are more interested in what Dyson can do for the team in the here and now. "I been around a long time, seen just about everything, played every offensive system there is. I've played a lot of playoff games, some of the biggest games you can be in, and that's what I bring to the table."
He doesn't bring a lot of recent playing experience to the table, however. He left the Titans after the 2002 season and signed with Carolina. Dyson missed most of the 2003 season with an ankle injury, but he did return for the Panthers' playoff run, although he didn't catch a pass against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Carolina cut him loose and then San Diego did the same after giving him a look in training camp in 2004. He coached football at a Nashville area high school and was quite prepared to move on with his post-football life.
You get to be at peace with it, it could be over, so what are you going to do now? I've never been one of those guys where football was all about me. . .Football didn't make Kevin Dyson. It's something I do for a living, something I love, but I didn't want it to define who I was, so if I didn't have it, it wasn't going to kill me. You hear guys saying how they miss the roar of the crowd. Yes, I miss the fans, I miss the locker room, but there are other things I can do to replace that. I was helping out coaching at a high school to find things to use those competitive juices I have.The Redskins called, however, and Dyson agreed to give it another go. He realizes that age (he'll be 30 tomorrow) and his injuries have robbed him of some speed. "I'm not 4.31 (in the 40)," Dyson admitted, "but I still know how to get downfield. . . My experience helps me a lot. . . Whether is because of the injuries, the age, not training for speed (due to injuries). I'm not 22 any more, I'm almost 30, but I do know how to play football and get open. You will see me go by people and that's all that counts."
He's also very aware that his role will change. For the first time in his career, Dyson will not be competing for a starting job, he will be looking for time as a backup.
I know I'm not going to be a starter like I was the first six years of my career. I'm starting the phase of being a backup and I have to be a productive backup. I look at somebody like Ricky Prohl, he was a starter his first six or seven years in the league and after that he became a stellar backup. He's making plays, making the most of his opportunities when he does get in there. I see myself in that kind of role. And I am one of those guys who is capable of starting if something happens to one of the guys in front of me.When asked about the problems the team had with both Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner complaining about not getting the ball enough, Dyson echoed the "all for one and one for all" theme that the team's other receivers have been expressing.
The first thing is, you have to be humble, we're all in this together. You look at a team that is successful, they're humble, there are no egos involved. Look at the Patriots, they have four or five guys who easily could have been stars somewhere else. (David) Patten, he didn't start most of the time, but he humbled himself to do what's best for the team and win games. That's first and foremost. You come in, you fit in and try to make plays.Dyson faces an uphill battle in trying to make the team. Santana Moss, Patten, Taylor Jacobs and James Thrash are assured of roster spots and the team is only likely to keep five (if Antonio Brown makes it, it will be in the kick returner roster slot vacated by Chad Morton). That leaves Dyson to fight it out with the younger Darnerien McCants and a wave of other youthful, spry hopefuls trying to knock out the old veteran.
Perhaps if the Redskins think that one day this season they just may need a Miracle, they might just hold on to Dyson.