Kevin Dyson has reached the point of his NFL career where he is a mentor for up-and-coming receivers just as much as a competitor with those same receivers for playing time.
It's a role that Dyson welcomes. The eight-year veteran has plenty of knowledge to impart, not to mention a few memories. His first conversation with new teammates--and coaches, too--invariably turns to two of the most famous plays in NFL history, both of which involved Dyson.
There's the so-called "Music City Miracle," of course. Dyson, then playing for the Tennessee Titans, caught a lateral on a kickoff return and raced down the sideline for a game-winning touchdown in a 1999 Wild Card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.
A few weeks later, with a handful of seconds left in Super Bowl XXXIII, Dyson was stopped one yard short of the goal line on the last play of the game. The stop secured the St. Louis Rams' 23-16 win.
"Those two plays are the first things that some of the guys here asked me about," Dyson said. "Even some of the coaches asked me about them. It's something that's going to live forever. Obviously I haven't had a storybook career like Jerry Rice, but my name will go down in history just because I'll never be forgotten from those two plays."
Dyson even entered the NFL making headlines. In 1998, he was the first wide receiver selected in the draft, 15th overall by the Titans. That was nine spots ahead of the more-heralded Randy Moss.
The 6-2, 212-pound Dyson has appeared in 59 games with 54 starts in his NFL career. He has recorded 178 catches for 2,325 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has played in two Super Bowls--he was a member of the Carolina Panthers' Super Bowl run in the 2003 season--and has eight catches for 82 yards in the postseason.
Dyson has had a myriad of injuries, including a torn Achilles injury and two torn knee ligaments, since 2000. He sat out the 2004 season after being released by the San Diego Chargers during preseason.
Now healthy, Dyson expects to enter training camp competing for a backup job on the Redskins' revamped wide receiver corps. He signed with the team in early June.
"Even if you're a backup, you want to be able to prepare yourself like you are a starter," he said. "I've had that mentality my whole career. Competition makes everyone better. [During the June 17-19 mini-camp], I got better every day in practice. And I'm pushing everyone in front of me to get better."
Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "Kevin's got that smoothness about him. You can tell he's not in awe of what's going on. He's bright. What he adds for us is that he fits into our group and he's been around. I think he's going to make a run at this."
In the meantime, Dyson wants to help bring along young receivers Taylor Jacobs, Darnerien McCants and Antonio Brown, among others.
"I bring experience and knowledge of the game," Dyson said. "I've been in three systems in the NFL, so I've seen it all. Teammates ask me questions all the time about how I approach the game and the experiences I've had in the playoffs."
Discussing team chemistry and what makes a successful team, Dyson said: "Everybody has to be humble and understand that we're all in this together. The teams that are successful are humble. There are no egos involved.
"You look at the [Super Bowl champion] New England Patriots and you could have easily said there are four or five guys who could have been starters anywhere else. David Patten had to split time with all of those receivers. He humbled himself and said, 'Look, I'll do whatever is best for the team. I want to win games.' That is first and foremost. You want to find a situation where you fit in, and then try to make plays when your number is called."