A new head coach in any sport makes the transition a nervous time for the holdover staff, veteran players, and their families.
The Vikings named 37-year-old Kevin O’Connell their new head coach last February to replace veteran Mike Zimmer, who had been in charge in Minnesota for eight seasons.
O’Connell brought in new coordinators on both sides of the ball and made additional changes on his large staff. Only three assistants were retained, including receivers coach and NFL alum Keenan McCardell. Several of the veteran receivers had publicly endorsed McCardell while the new staff was being formed.
“That support meant a lot to me,” says McCardell, who only joined the Vikings last season. “I called all my receivers and told them they didn’t have to do that. I think my resume would have spoken for itself. If it didn’t, it’s part of the process. I know in this coaching business I’ve got to do my job and then, hopefully, other people will see it. However, I appreciate all these guys going to bat for me. It shows what kind of receivers’ room we have.”
McCardell’s coaching resume includes NFL assistant stints in Washington (2010-11) and Jacksonville (2017-20). He also coached on the collegiate level at the University of Maryland (2014-15). His playing resume began as a late round draft choice of the Redskins in 1991 out of UNLV. He also played for five other teams before retiring after the 2007 season in Washington. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion and twice was named to the Pro Bowl. He finished with 883 NFL receptions including 63 TDs. Not a bad football resume!
“We have a great connection with the coach (McCardell),” says Vikings receiver K.J. Osborn. “I think that comes from him having been a player himself. He can relate to us because he’s been in almost every seat in the room, had a long career and has been involved in a bunch of different offenses.”
We at NFL Alumni also can relate to the 52-year old Keenan McCardell. We wish him–and fellow NFL alum & rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell– much success in the very competitive NFC North division.