The following is Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell's diary for Sept. 4-9, 2001.
Tuesday, September 4, 2001
Most opening weeks, we have an extra day of practice, so, we started on Tuesday with the Pittsburgh game plan. It was my first week back from having my hernia surgery and I was anxious to get back. Coach held the strings on me and told me not to go out and overdo it my first day back. Tuesday was good. I think everyone was enthused to get the week started for opening day. Everybody was excited when we got the game plan and we felt real comfortable about the game plan. Just getting into game week, knowing that these games really count, helped some guys. Coming off of my surgery, it was a day-to-day situation on me playing against Pittsburgh. Being the competitor I am, I knew I was playing on Sunday if I stepped onto the practice field Tuesday. As long as I didn't have any setbacks during the week, I was going to play. I didn't want to say anything because it was a day-to-day thing and we had to wait to see what the doctors were going to say. Tuesday went well for me. I think I got through practice better than I expected; probably better than what coach was expecting.
Wednesday, September 5, 2001
Since we usually start our week on Wednesday, we were ahead of schedule. Everybody was enthused on Wednesday because we were feeling Pittsburgh out on Tuesday, but when Wednesday came, we wanted to have those guys down. We were seeing formations we knew, seeing defenses we knew, and we knew how to attack them. That one extra day helped us out. I felt very, very good on Wednesday. I probably felt my best of the whole week on Wednesday. I had a real good practice. We all had a real good practice, especially on offense. We figured out what we needed to do to beat those guys.
Thursday, September 6, 2001
Thursday comes and your mindset during a regular week is Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and it's time to play football. This week, however, it was Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and we were looking for Saturday, but we had that extra day. That extra day helped us out. It rained very hard during practice on Thursday. The weatherman was saying we could get rain on Sunday. We didn't want it to rain, but it poured down and we knew we had to practice and get though it just in case it rained on Sunday. This is Jacksonville and you never know what type of weather you're going to get. Thursday night at the McCardell house was good. My wife is pregnant and she is due November 12 with twins. I was tired on Thursday and she had me doing things around the house. I was sore in practice and when I came home I was still sore and I was trying to get my rest, but with the wife home and pregnant, I had to do the honey-do's. I had to iron my daughter's clothes. I had to make sure the homework was done. I had another job at home, but it was fun. I enjoy helping my daughter out. She likes for me to help her with her homework. She's in kindergarten and I must say that kindergarten now is not like when I was in kindergarten. They have big-time problems. I remember when we were coloring and going outside. Now they're doing math.
Friday, September 7, 2001
Friday was another practice day, when usually it would be a Saturday walk-through. All of the things we didn't pick up on Thursday in the red zone -- we call it the green zone -- we picked up some more things with which to attack them. I think the extra day helped us get over the top with this game plan. Friday pushed us over in terms of execution. After Friday's practice, everyone was just ready to play the game. It was a long week and guys were ready for Sunday.
Saturday, September 8, 2001
We had our regular walk-through. We did our top 10 plays, substitutions and things like that. Saturday was a day like, it's here! The year is here. The start of the 2001 season is here. Let's just get through this walk-through and get to the hotel and get in the bed. All of the emotions were there and people were just jumping around feeling good. The atmosphere at the hotel was very different than that from training camp. We knew we were here just for one night. We aren't here for four weeks, like training camp. We just wanted everybody to get some rest and be ready for Sunday.
Sunday, September 9, 2001
It was my 11th opening day. Each year it gets even better. I haven't been out on the field, dressed, ready to play since last season. I had a lot of electricity going through me, getting back between those chalk lines. I was ready to strap it on like the true warrior I am. I was ready to play. All of the aches and pain leave. You know you can handle the aches and pains for three hours. When I stepped out onto the field, I told myself I had to deal with the pain or just don't think about it. It was a lot of intensity from the whole team and we needed to come out and play physical. When we were in the locker room we just knew we had to be physical. I think they wanted to test us and see if we were ready for what I call their "bully mentality." They think they can bully everybody around. We were ready, focused and in our house. That's not happening! You have to take care of home. It's like when you're a kid and when you walk down the street you might have to bow up a little bit, and what is your mom going to say when you come home? You better get back out there and whip that boy. They were coming to our house and we had to get out there and fight. We had to show them that it wasn't going to be, "you push me and I'll go running," but, rather, "you push me and I'm going to hit you back in the mouth." That was the mentality we had. Everybody was just flying around. Everybody just wanted to be in the right place at the right time and help everybody. It was a different feeling that I felt on Sunday. Everything we did we did for the team. Every individual was flying around for the team and not for themselves, and I think that's the biggest reason we got the victory.