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Rich McKay

By RICK STROUD, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 21, 2003

He was emotional after watching the Bucs win the NFC Championship Game 27-10 Sunday night at Philadelphia.

The team his father, the late John McKay, coached, the team he served as a ball boy for so many years, had finally advanced to the franchise's first Super Bowl in 27 seasons.

Rich McKay celebrated with players, lit a victory cigar on the team plane and thought a lot about how much the old coach would've loved this moment.

But there was much work to do in preparation for the trip to San Diego and sleep didn't come easy, if at all. -- RICK STROUD

* * *

"We had to do so much work on the plane and everything else. When we got back to the office, we had to talk to the people in California. So there was a lot to be done. The hardest thing is you've got to deal with all the ticket issues, the media issues, we had to deal with the coaches going out tomorrow morning. We had a lot of things to do. We had done a lot, but I guess we didn't do enough.

"The fact that both teams could undergo coaching changes and still go to the Super Bowl is highly unlikely. Especially in our case. Theirs was hired from within. In ours, he had to put his stamp on the team, modify the team from an attitude standpoint as he saw fit.

"(Jon Gruden) didn't try to come in and shake everything up. He figured out where we could make some improvements that fit what he wanted to do. He did a nice job with the defensive staff. He helped the process along a lot.

"I think he felt a lot of the heat early. But the great thing is he took that and used it as a positive. As I told him last night, the other impressive thing for him and his staff was losing the first game. Instead of panicking, we came back and won three or four in a row. "It's the biggest win of almost every one on the staff."

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