*The following is Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell's diary for Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2000. *
Thursday, September 28, 2000
Thursday was an all-Pittsburgh practice. Thursday we got real in-depth with Pittsburgh by doing a lot of film work earlier that morning. We were trying to catch up because it was a short week and our bodies were still drained from that Monday night game. As Thursday rolled around I started to feel better, working myself through the pain. We got back into pads, got some physical work going, got to hit someone just to see what was going on. Everybody was feeling pretty well. We had a real good practice on Thursday because we knew we had a tough week. We knew we had to come out extremely focused on Thursday. We didn't play well on Monday night and, as a veteran, I was trying to express to the young guys that, hey, let's go out and show everybody we can play better than what we did on Monday. This is the next chance to show people that we can play football; it was just a fluke. Walking around Thursday I think we expressed a thought of let's just play well in front of our home crowd and things will be righted. Thursday night for me was rough because I came down with a cold. It was a rough night. I didn't get much sleep. It's part of life and part of the season. My wife took care of me like she usually does. She gave me some hot tea, rubbed me down with Vicks. I had some real good treatment! She was trying to get me well because she knew I wanted to play. That was my Thursday. Trying to stay away from my wife and little girl, because I didn't want to give them a cold.
Friday, September 29, 2000
When you get to Friday, you know it's there. The game is right around the corner. As is every Friday, it's a short day, but this Friday we had to sit there and look at film to see what we missed. We came in and got our red area stuff done and had a real good practice. Everybody was feeling upbeat. I think everybody was just getting their legs back on Friday. Thursday we were getting there, but on Friday everybody realized the game was right around the corner and it's time to play again. It's time to show the world what the Jaguars are all about. We went through practice and made some adjustments in the red area and we had a good day. You have to realize that every time we play the Steelers it's a knock-down, drag-out fight. It doesn't matter what our records are. Knowing the history between these two teams, you have to realize it's going to be a fist-fight. You have to go out and say, 'if I go out and play my game and play my best, we should win.' That's what you have to stress to everybody. We were trying to take the pressure off what the media was saying and focus on playing. Last Friday night I had a fish fry, but this Friday night I had soup and Gatorade. I didn't feel well on Thursday night. Felt a little better on Friday night and it seems that when night-time comes, colds get worse. I was eating soups, drinking hot tea, Nyquil, just trying to get over this little cold. It kind of went away Friday, but I was still feeling bad.
Saturday, September 30, 2000
Saturday, I was feeling better than I was Thursday and Friday. I took some medicine and whatever my wife gave me, it worked. I came to the stadium and had our usual breakfast, doughnuts and bagels. Saturday morning was real beautiful. We went through our walk-through and people were feeling real good. It's something about a Saturday because you know the game is right around the corner. You get that competitive spirit flowing, knowing that we're about to face somebody else. I went home and relaxed a little bit; watched college football and then it started raining. I was getting ready to go to the Saturday night meeting and it's raining. I was like, wow, what's the weather going to be like. This is football and you have to play in whatever the weather may be. After chapel, I stayed in the room at the hotel and watched some extra film. I felt like I needed to catch up on some film. I was prepared, but I wanted to see a few other things that I could do.
Sunday, October 1, 2000
I went to sleep on Saturday night, woke up and it seemed like my cold disappeared. It's game time! Time to play! It was a beautiful day here in Jacksonville on Sunday. It was sunny, a little windy, but it was football weather and it was beautiful. It was a great day for football; people wanted to come out and see us bounce back. I got over to the stadium and felt like something good was going to happen to us. We went out and blocked a punt first thing. I was, like, my feeling was right. This is what we need to get us going. It seems like the mindset was there, but we just couldn't get there. It was like everything was in slow motion. We just couldn't make that play when we needed to. It could be because it was a short week, but that's the NFL and you can't have any excuses. You have to give Pittsburgh credit. They came in with a lot of intensity and flat-out out-played us. It's hard to take because they beat us at home. They had never won here and came in ready to play. On Sunday, after the game, it was tough for everybody because we felt like we were prepared. We felt like they couldn't beat us here because it's hard to beat a good team at home and they came in and did it. It hurts because you want to go out and help the team win. When you hear people saying our team is not a team; inside our locker room we feel like we're a team, we just have to come together. We just have to play with some togetherness. We don't have time for camp, double-days, etc., to get that togetherness. It has to come in practice. I think we have to go out and work harder and want to be great. You have to want to be great before you can be great. I think we have to take a look in the mirror and just say, 'What can I do to make this thing better?' I think if everybody does that and comes back to work on Wednesday ready to work, I think this team will become a team. My wife always says I'm a real hard-nose after a loss, because I carry it so hard. I expect us to win every game. That's just my mindset. That's the way you should feel. I came home and I was real hurt. Pittsburgh was 0-3 and they came in, beat us and they were struggling. We had a chance to get them while they were down. They just flipped the cards on us. It hurt me that way and my wife asked me if I was going to let it go. I told her I was but it's going to be a little bit. I just sat around with my wife and my little girl playing. I watched the Sunday night game between Philadelphia and Atlanta. Watching games, you realize how games can get out of hand on a play here or a play there. It made me reflex on our game. A play here, a play there could have changed the whole momentum of the game. Atlanta was playing Philly pretty well. It was 6-0 at the half and Atlanta didn't come out strong and Philly put them away. It made me reminisce on our game. On the blocked punt, if we had scored a touchdown, the game would have changed. That's how hard it laid on my heart on Sunday night. It was kind of rough.
Monday, October 2, 2000
My wife and I went to breakfast around 8:30 a.m. We didn't talk about football; just her and me. We had a little morning date just to get out and get away. It's something we don't do too much of in the season because we don't have a lot of time. It's just some time to give back to her. Driving into work, I'm thinking, 'What can we do to right this ship?' I came in and was anxious to see what happened. I can almost reminisce every play and I'm rehashing every play in my mind. I'm asking myself, 'Did I get this block? Did I make this catch? What happened on that route?' I do all of this so that when I get in I have already graded myself. Then when I see it, I say, 'This is what I need to improve upon. As we make our corrections, we see we are two or three plays from turning the game around. Now it hurts because you see how close you were to flipping the game the other way. It's a game of spurts; a game of momentum, and we just didn't flip that momentum on Sunday, and on Monday we realized that.