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Interview: Former Tennessee Titans receiver Kevin Dyson looks back at the Music City Miracle and near Super Bowl win
Kevin Dyson, 35, is a former receiver with the Tennessee Titans (1998-02), Carolina Panthers (2003), was signed by the San Diego Chargers for the 2004 off-season and started the 2005 pre-season with the Washington Redskins. A native of Clearfield, Utah and standout receiver at the University of Utah, he was drafted 16th overall by the Tennessee Oilers in the 1998 NFL Draft, one season before the franchise became known as the Tennessee Titans.
During that first season after the name change, Dyson took part in two of the most memorable plays in NFL history, the Music City Miracle (famously called by Mike Keith on the radio) against the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round and being tackled at the one yard line by St. Louis Rams linebacker Mike Jones as time expired in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Four season later, in his final non-preseason NFL game, Dyson played a minor role in the Panthers' 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
He is currently the athletic director and head football coach at Independence High School in suburban Nashville, has two daughters and a wife.
As you caught Frank Wychek's throw, did you notice if it was forward or backward?
At the point of the play, you're not thinking about forward or backward, you're just thinking about getting the ball in your hands. At that point of the game, I wasn't thinking about it going backward or forward. I actually didn't think about it until they said it was under review and at that point [my teammates and coaches] asked me if it was going forward or backward. From my reaction to the throw, meaning when I was moving backward to catch it, I just assumed it was a lateral. And I said to myself 'yeah,' it was good, no question. It wasn't till after I got home and saw SportsCenter that I realized just how close it was.
As you caught it and turned, how excited were you to see the wall of blockers?
When I caught it and looked up, there wasn't really anybody there—I think [Bills defensive back] Antonie Winfield was running after me and I had three guys to my right. And then [Bills kicker] Doug Christie was the last man standing and once I saw him slow down, essentially 'that was all she wrote.' I think the initial thought was to get the ball to their end, try to do my best to get the ball out of bounds to kick a field goal and win the game. But when I saw Christie slow down [I said I might as well go in for the touchdown].
What did it feel like coasting into the end zone?
It was real great. I mean obviously, I celebrated for that moment and then obviously a review was coming for the play, so I really couldn't get over-excited because you just don't know. I still had to somewhat still be in the game and in the moment just in case they did overturn it. I had to kinda wait and see and then celebrate. But at the same time, we had worry about whether the play was going to count and even if it did, we would have to kickoff and they might do something crazy. So I really didn't get to celebrate until after the game.
We talked about it some last year but how devastating was it to fall short? Did it eat away at you for months?
That was one of the hardest things for me to deal with on a personal level athletically. I think it was the only time in my whole athletic life that I could remember where I had the ball in my hands at the end of a game and was not successful. I'm talking basketball game winning shots, free throws, the penalty kick in soccer, a game winning catch in football—I mean that was the first time I could remember not being successful and it was at the biggest stage of my life at that point as far as athletics are concerned.
Where did you get the strength to get up and walk off the field after you were tackled by Mike Jones during the Super Bowl?
Athletics are what they are. You take the good with the bad and it just is what is. And just think back for a moment to what my coaches said growing up. They told me "don't let you opponent see you hurt and always be gracious in defeat and humble in a win." And I just remembered that as I was laying there and saw the confetti coming down.
What did Coach Jeff Fisher say to the team in the lockerroom afterward?
To tell you the truth, I don't even remember. I wasn't even really paying attention at that point. I was just tryin' to think of what I could or could not have done better or something to that effect. I think he said it was tough, we got here to this point, it was hard—you know, the typical speech a coach would give to help his players feel better about a tough loss like that. But obviously I was unhappy and during the conversation I was just sulking and trying to marinate [in my mind] what just happened.
Do you try to avoid watching the highlight of the play like the plague?
Yeah, for a while I did. I still have not watched the game in its entirety. When I get time to and when I get inspired to maybe one day I will, though it'll still be tough to watch. But now I see it when I see it on TV and I watch it and look at the scenarios. I look at what's going on, recollect and reminisce. It isn't so much that I avoid it anymore, I just don't make a point to go looking for it any more.
What was the Super Bowl experience like with Carolina?
It was a little different. Obviously, I had been there once before for one. Two, my experience was talking about my first experience. So [all the media], when I was doing interviews, they only wanted to talk about the fact that I was unsuccessful and was a yard short my first time around.
How tough was it to walk off the field in Houston, once again just short.
It was very, very tough. You know people tell me all the time not a lot of people have been to one Super Bowl, let alone two. I played in two of the best Super Bowls in the last 20-30 years or maybe ever and to come up short in one and to literally come within a play in another—it was tough man, it was tough. I didn't have as big a part in the second one as I did the first one because of injuries and things of that nature but I was still out there and played a little bit. It was tough to swallow—getting to the biggest stage of what we do as far as football players are concerned and not being able to win was tough.
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