Former Bucs WR Keenan McCardell caught two TDs for Tampa Bay in its Super Bowl XXXVII victory over Oakland in 2002. Now McCardell, who is coaching the West receivers in this year's East-West Shrine Game in Orlando, Fla., wants to catch on as the Bucs' new WRs coach and lobbied for the position.
Tampa Bay officially has an opening on its coaching staff and is looking for a replacement for wide receivers coach Richard Mann, whose contract will not be renewed when it expires in February. Mann, who joined the Buccaneers in 2002, was granted permission to interview with Washington last week.
The Bucs hope to have the position filled by next week when general manager Mark Dominik, head coach Raheem Morris and the scouting staff heads to Mobile, Ala. for the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl. Dominik and Morris have been very tight-lipped about potential candidates that they are interviewing to be Mann’s replacement.
There has been some speculation that assistant wide receivers coach Tim Berbenich is a candidate, along with former Tampa Bay wide receivers Ike Hilliard and Keenan McCardell, both of whom are retired from the NFL, are possible choices. The Bucs have been getting a close look at McCardell this week at the East-West Shrine Game practices as he is the wide receivers coach for the West team. But he has yet to hear from the Buccaneers.
“They haven’t approached me yet, but I would love to [be the receivers coach],” said McCardell, who visited a Bucs practice this year during the season at team headquarters. “I would love to come over there and help Raheem. He’s energetic and I’m the same way. You can see that by watching me in practice. I would love to help the team and get that staff and help those receivers. You all need to put in a word for me!”
McCardell, who was drafted in the 12th round by Washington in 1991, doesn’t have any coaching experience outside of an NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship stint with the New York Giants last year, but does have 17 years of NFL experience to draw from. Aside from Washington, McCardell also played in Cleveland and is best known for his time in Jacksonville where he starred opposite Jimmy Smith for six years from 1996-2001.
He logged two seasons with the Buccaneers in 2002-03 before McCardell was traded to San Diego in 2004 after a contract dispute. The UNLV product played an instrumental role in helping Tampa Bay win its first and only world championship by catching two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXVII.
McCardell finished the 2002 season with 61 catches for 670 yards and six touchdowns before becoming Tampa Bay's featured receiver in 2003 when Keyshawn Johnson was suspended, catching a team-high 84 passes for 1,184 yards and eight touchdowns. Those numbers earned him a spot at the Pro Bowl following the 2003 season.
McCardell finished his career with Houston and Washington, signing with the Redskins midway through the 2007 season after the Texans released him, catching 22 passes for 256 yards and one touchdown. He finished his storied NFL career after the 2007 season with 883 catches, which ranks 13th in NFL history, for 11,373 yards and 63 touchdowns.
As a self-made player who had to work his way up from his 12th-round draft status, McCardell can relate to the receivers at the East-West Shrine Game, most of whom will be drafted in rounds 4-7 or go undrafted. His story is one these long-shot receivers will need to embrace to succeed in the NFL.
“I tell them I am what you are,” McCardell said. “I was a guy who was a late-round draft pick and would have been a free agent [in modern times]. I tell them, ‘I was right there with you. I did the things that they’ve done and had to do to get noticed by the NFL. I worked hard, kept my nose clean, kept grinding and became a student of the game. Things will happen if you work hard.'
“It’s great to have a chance to give back to some of these guys what some of the older guys and coaches gave to me – to better the game and keep the game as great as it is,” McCardell said. “We have to leave the game the way it was when we arrived – or make it better. Why not give back to these young guys? The athletes keep getting better and better each year. Once they know the right techniques, it makes the game better.”
McCardell wants to help Tampa Bay’s receivers get better, too.
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