Black and Teal Legends: Counting Down the Top Twenty-Five Jaguars of All-Time (#8)


We continue our list of the Top-25 Jaguars of all-time. It appears as we roll through the remainder of our countdown that we are coming to more of an agreement on who should be on thist list and where they stand. Of more than 215 votes, 61% of you agreed that Rashean Mathis is the #9 greatest Jaguar of all-time.

As I've said, I expect more and more concurance amongst us as to the players named, the positioning may be more debated.

On to #8....

#8. Keenan McCardell, WR, 1996-2001

The Jaguars signed McCardell in the 1996 off-season with the hopes he'd provide the up and coming Mark Brunell with a dependable target in Kevin Gilbride's pass-happy offense. McCardell provided the team with more than a substantial return on their investment.

McCardell started all but one game in the '96 season and instantly became the go to guy for Brunell. His breakout game came halfway through the season against the St. Louis Rams, as McCardell nearly set the NFL single game receptions record, catching 16 passes for 232 yards, in a controversial loss. He began to emerge as the team's most reliable target, and while he lacked the deep speed of a premier receiver, McCardell developed an uncanny knack for getting open with precise routes and finding holes in the opponents coverages. As the team began it's miracle playoff run, he became a perfect compliment to the sudden rise of fellow receiver Jimmy Smith and his deep play ability. He played a huge role once the Jags finally made the post season, catching 4 balls for 76 yards in the upset at Buffalo, and following it up with a 5 catch 59 yard game in the miracle win at Denver. McCardell made one of the all-time great plays in Jags history in the Denver game, catching a touchdown pass from Brunell in the end zone while being draped by the Denver defender, to give the team an 8 point lead.

For his performance in the '96 regular season, in which he finished with 85 receptions, 1129 yards, and 3 touchdowns, McCardell was awarded with his first ever Pro Bowl election. This selection made him the first Jaguar player in franchise history to be named to the league's all-star team. Though Brunell and Tony Boselli would eventually be added to the squad, after being named an alternates.

Throughout the next few seasons, as the Jaguars rose from lowly expansion franchise to perennial powerhouse, McCardell continued to be a dominant possession receiver. Teaming up with his receiving comrade, Smith, the two became known to Jaguars fans as, "Thunder & Lightning", with McCardell being the "Thunder" for his abilities to go over the middle and take a pounding at times, while still making tremendous catch after tremendous catch.

From 1997-1999, at the peak of the Jaguars' early successes, McCardell amassed 227 receptions for 2,947 yards and 16 touchdowns over the three year span. In '97, McCardell and Smith became the only tandem in the NFL to accumulate 80 or more receptions and 1,000+ yards in the same season, for that year. Though he never recorded over 80 yards in any of the team's eight playoff games between '96-'99, his play helped set up the big play Smith, as well as the rest of the offense to help the team make two AFC title game appearances.

Though the Jaguars began to decline in terms of wins and losses after the '99 season, McCardell still remained a more than productive player for the team. Ironically, his best two seasons in both receptions and in yardage came following the team's success on the field. He recorded 94 receptions, for 1,207 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2000, and followed up that performace with a 93 catch, 1,110 yard and 5 touchdown showing in 2001.

As with many other veteran players following the '01 season, the Jaguars released McCardell due to salary cap restraints. Out of all the cap moves made by the franchise to dig out of cap hell, McCardell's released proved to be the most foolish.

He went on to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, and helped them capture their first Super Bowl title that year. McCardell finished the '02 season with 61 catches for 670 yards and 6 touchdowns, despite missing two games to injury. In Super Bowl XXXVII, he caught two Brad Johnson passes for touchdowns, the only passing scores in the game for the Bucs, as Tampa routed the Oakland Raiders.

McCardell would have another big season in 2003, catching 84 passes for 1,174 yards and a career high at the time, 8 touchdowns. He was again named to the Pro Bowl for this performance, his second of his career.

He tried to hold out for his last big contract going into the 2004 season. McCardell sat out more than half the season in protest, but rather than pay him his demanded salary, Tampa traded him to the San Diego Chargers for a 3rd and 5th round pick. In 2005, he finished second on the team in receiving behind Antonio Gates, with 70 catches for 917 yards and a new career high 9 touchdowns.

After failed attempts to catch on with the Houston Texans and Washington Redskins, McCardell retired in 2008.

He is currently trying to climp the coaching ranks of the NFL. He was the wide receivers coach for the Redskins in 2010 and 2011 before being fired in the 2012 off-season. McCardell interviewed for the same position with the Jaguars following Mike Mularkey's hire, but was passed over for Jerry Sullivan.

McCardell finished his NFL career 13th All-Time in receptions with 883 and 23rd All-Time in receiving yards, with 11,373. He remains the number two All-Time receiver in Jaguars history, second only to Jimmy Smith, in every major category, including receptions (499), yards (6,393), and touchdowns (30).

While there are some who question whether or not McCardell's name will be etched above the West Club one day, it would be a horrible oversight, in my opinion, for him to not have his time and be inducted into the "Pride of the Jaguars".

The Top-25 List:

#25. Aaron Beasley, CB, 1996-2001

#24. Bryan Barker, P, 1995-2000

#23. Donovin Darius, S, 1998-2006

#22. David Garrard, QB, 2002-2010

#21. Josh Scobee, K, 2004-Present

#20. Kyle Brady, TE, 1999-2006

#19. Kevin Hardy, LB, 1996-2001

#18. Brad Meester, C, 2000-Present

#17. Vince Manuwai, G, 2003-2010

#16. Mike Peterson, LB, 2003-2008

#15. Mike Hollis, K, 1995-2001

#14. Gary Walker, DT, 1999-2001

#13. Daryl Smith, LB, 2004-Present

#12. Leon Searcy, OT, 1996-2000

#11. Tony Brackens, DE, 1996-2004

#10. John Henderson, DT, 2002-2009

#9. Rashean Mathis, CB, 2003-Present

#8. Keenan McCardell, WR, 1996-2001

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