One can sum up Kevin Dyson’s career as Tennessee Titans wide receiver in a few words: “Music City Miracle” and “The Tackle.”
Dyson’s improbable, game-winning 75-yard touchdown- his first as an NFL player – against the Buffalo Bills in the 1999 Wild Card Game was the stuff of legends.
On the other hand, Dyson getting tackled mere inches short of scoring a game-tying touchdown in Super Bowl XXXIV is a moment Titans fans would rather forget.
Dyson’s pro football career didn’t have any jaw-dropping moments since then.
He eventually retired from the gridiron at the age of 30 in 2005.
Dyson, who’s currently a successful educator and media personality, will conjure images of “The Music City Miracle” in the hearts and minds of Titans fans forever.
Kevin Tyree Dyson was born in Logan, UT on June 23, 1975.
Dyson was raised in Clinton, UT, a town that is located approximately 54 miles south of Logan.
His mother, Susan Hall, raised her four children – Kevin was the oldest – by herself.
Kevin is the older brother of Andre Dyson, a future NFL cornerback who played for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and New York Jets.
One day, Kevin told his mother he would play in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and buy her a new home, per the Utah Utes’ official athletics website.
Susan supported her son’s dream. She also encouraged him to get a college degree.
Dyson eventually did that. However, he never realized his dream of playing in the NBA.
Instead, he would play in the Super Bowl – the championship game of the National Football League – many years later.
In fact, he would become part of one of the most controversial and memorable plays in Super Bowl history.
Dyson attended Clearfield High School.
He played as a defensive back for the Clearfield Falcons.
Dyson was part of the squad that captured the 1992 Utah 4A championship under the leadership of Falcons head football coach Randy Johnson.
Dyson earned All-State honors in football and honorable mention All-State in basketball, per the then-Washington Redskins’ official website.
Kevin Dyson’s retired No. 1 Clearfield Falcons jersey currently hangs from the press box of Falcon Field.
Dyson graduated from Clearfield High School in 1993.
He’d remain in-state and make a name for himself at the University of Utah.
College Days With The Utah Utes
Kevin Dyson majored in sociology and environmental behavior at the University of Utah.
Dyson redshirted his freshman year with the Utah Utes in the 1993 NCAA season.
With Dyson on the sidelines, the Utes went 7-6 under fourth-year head football coach Ron McBride in 1993.
They lost in the now-defunct Freedom Bowl to the USC Trojans on December 30, 1993, 28-21.
When Dyson took the field for his redshirt freshman campaign in the 1994 NCAA season, the Utes became a force on the gridiron.
Dyson became part of the wide receiver rotation and had 339 yards and two touchdowns on 24 receptions in eleven games in 1994.
With Dyson on board, the Utes won ten games for the first time in the program’s 89-year history.
One of Dyson’s signature moments during his college football days was “The Catch” against the 15th-ranked Arizona Wildcats in the 1994 Freedom Bowl.
Dyson and Co. faced Arizona’s famous “Desert Swarm” defense that limited the Wildcats’ opponents to 190 points in the 1994 NCAA season.
The Utes were in a fourth-and-goal situation and trailed Arizona 13-9 late in the fourth quarter.
Utes quarterback Mike McCoy threw a desperation pass that Dyson somehow caught with just one hand.
“The Catch” propelled the Utes to a miraculous 16-13 win over the Wildcats to cap off a memorable 1994 NCAA campaign.
Dyson continued building on his success in his redshirt sophomore season in 1995.
He more than doubled his receiving yardage total with 751 yards on 55 receptions.
Clearly, Dyson was becoming a bigger focal point in the Utes’ offense.
He also hauled in six touchdown receptions in the 1995 NCAA season.
All Time #UtahUtes Football favorites:
QB: Alex Smith
RB: Brandon Warfield
WR: Kevin Dyson
TE/Utility: Ben Moa
OL: Garret Bolles
DL: Hunter Dimick
LB: Stevenson Sylvester
CB: Eric Weddle
S: Robert Johnson
K: Louie Sakoda
P: Tom Hackett
KR/PR: Steve Smith
— Will Osborne (@willosborne32) June 2, 2018
Despite Dyson’s emergence as a go-to wideout, Utah regressed and won seven games in McBride’s sixth year at the helm.
Consequently, the Utes didn’t receive a bowl invite for the first time in four seasons.
For his part, redshirt junior Kevin Dyson would enjoy his finest season on the college gridiron in 1996.
Dyson’s 53 receptions, 812 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns led all Utes receivers that year.
Not only was Kevin Dyson Utah’s leading receiver, but he also made an impact on special teams.
Dyson ran for 289 yards on kickoff returns in his redshirt junior campaign.
To nobody’s surprise, his teammates voted him their Most Valuable Offensive Player in 1996, per UtahUtes.com.
Dyson also earned First-Team All-WAC honors that year.
The Utes won eight of twelve games in the 1996 NCAA campaign.
Unfortunately, they lost to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Copper Bowl (which later on became the Cheez-It Bowl) in blowout fashion on December 27, 1996, 38-10.
The Utes voted Dyson as team captain for his redshirt senior season in 1997.
Although Dyson had just two touchdowns, he still hauled in 824 yards on 60 receptions – both career bests – in his final college football season in Salt Lake City.
Dyson also led Utah in kick returns (268 yards) and punt returns (228 yards) in the 1997 NCAA season.
He earned his second consecutive First-Team All-WAC honors at season’s end.
This time around, he earned the accolade as both a wide receiver and kick returner.
Regrettably, the Utes’ mediocre 6-5 win-loss record wasn’t enough to earn them a bowl invite in Kevin Dyson’s farewell campaign.
Dyson is the Utah Utes’ all-time leader in career receptions (192).
His 2,726 receiving yards rank him second behind Bryan Rowley (3,143 yards) in program history.
Dyson’s 18 career touchdowns rank him fifth all-time among Utes receivers.
After five years refining his game with the Utah Utes, Kevin Dyson was now ready to take his act to the National Football League.
Pro Football Career
The then-Tennessee Oilers got off to a decent start in their first year in the Volunteer State in 1997.
The Oilers went 8-8 the season they moved to Tennessee from Houston.
Prior to that, the Oilers had been based in Houston since 1960.
The re-christened Tenneesse Oilers featured stalwarts such as future NFL MVP and quarterback Steve “Air” McNair, running back Eddie George, and wide receiver Frank Wycheck.
Although Tennessee had a decent record, the team had one of the worst passing offenses in the NFL.
The Oilers’ 2,505 passing yards ranked them 29th in the league in 1997.
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2,442 passing yards ranked worse.
Kevin Dyson, the Utah Utes’ all-time leader in career receptions, could help fill the Oilers’ void in their passing game.
The Oilers made Dyson the 16th overall selection of the 1998 NFL Draft.
The Tennessee Titans just made their first round selection, in 1998 the Tennessee Oilers took Utah receiver Kevin Dyson with the 16th pick.#KSLSportsArchive #NFLDraft #UtahUtes pic.twitter.com/NlDVGvnzuM
— Matthew L Glade (@matthewLksl) April 24, 2020
Kevin Dyson became one of just eight first-round draft picks in Utah Utes football program history, per UtahUtes.com.
To this day, Tennessee Titans fans and pundits alike wonder what could’ve been had the team selected Moss instead of Dyson.
The Minnesota Vikings nabbed Moss, the highly-touted Marshall Thundering Herd wide receiver, five selections after Dyson.
Moss finished his spectacular 14-year NFL career with 15,292 receiving yards and 156 touchdowns on 982 receptions.
Dyson’s stats would pale significantly in comparison.
Nevertheless, he would become part of Titans’ lore because of two spectacular postseason plays that had a profound effect on the franchise for years to come.
Coincidentally, the Oilers’ selection of Dyson occurred just two days after a tornado wreaked havoc in downtown Nashville and damaged the site of Nissan Stadium, their future home.
Dyson saw action in thirteen games during his rookie year in the 1998 NFL season.
He had 263 yards and two touchdowns on 21 receptions.
The Oilers duplicated their 8-8 win-loss mark from the season before and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
When the Oilers became the Tennessee Titans in 1999, they enjoyed their most successful postseason run since they moved to the NFL in 1970.
Dyson’s 658 receiving yards led the Titans’ wideouts in the 1999 NFL campaign.
He also hauled in four touchdowns in his second pro season.
The Titans won a franchise record thirteen games in 1999.
Dyson’s regular-season performance set the stage for the two postseason plays Titans fans will remember him for life.
The Titans trailed the Buffalo Bills 16-15 with just 16 seconds left on the game clock in the AFC Wild Card matchup.
To make matters worse, the Titans’ line of scrimmage was 75 yards away from the end zone.
It seemed only a miracle could save their season.
That’s precisely what happened.
Ironically, Kevin Dyson wasn’t originally a part of the play head coach Jeff Fisher drew up.
Fisher initially designed the Titans’ “home run throwback” play for wide receiver Derrick Mason and safety Anthony Dorsett, Jr., per ESPN’s Turron Davenport.
Unfortunately, Mason sustained a concussion while Dorsett cramped up.
Dyson also had the case of the cramps but he took an IV in the third quarter that gave him his second wind.
Fisher then came up to Dyson and broke down the play for him: he had to stay 10 yards behind Frank Wycheck, rack up yard as much yardage as he could, and step out of bounds to stop the clock and set up a potential game-winning field goal attempt.
After Dyson caught the pass from Wycheck, only Bills kicker Steve Christie and defensive back Donovan Greer stood in his way.
“When Christie went down, everything just went silent,” Dyson told Davenport in January 2020. “I can remember thinking, ‘Should I get out of bounds?’ but then I was like, ‘This is it’ and it was smooth sailing.”
20 years ago today…
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) January 8, 2020
Dyson took it to the house for a 75-yard touchdown – the first of his pro football career and a play that earned the moniker “The Music City Miracle.”
Nissan Stadium erupted.
The Titans pulled off the miracle, 22-16.
The Bills – who were seeking their first Super Bowl title after finishing as bridesmaids for four consecutive years a decade earlier – were stunned.
The Titans then beat the Indianapolis Colts 19-16 in the AFC Divisional Round eight days later.
Eddie George’s 162 rushing yards and a touchdown on 26 carries helped Tennessee advance to the AFC Championship Game against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars won fourteen games in the 1999 NFL season and reached the AFC title game for the second time in their short, five-year existence.
The Titans ended their Super Bowl aspirations with a 33-14 blowout victory on January 23, 2000.
Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair had 203 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in the win.
The Titans squared off against the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
The Rams had a high-octane offense featuring quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, and wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
They took center stage on the so-called “Greatest Show on Turf.”
St. Louis took a 23-16 advantage after Bruce hauled in a spectacular 73-yard pass from Warner with 1:54 left to play.
McNair passed the ball to Dyson with just six seconds left in the contest.
Dyson, who sprinted toward the end zone, seemed he was about to pull off another miracle in a span of three weeks.
However, Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Dyson within inches of the goal line just as time expired.
Dyson stretched and reached the ball over his head in a desperate attempt to score, to no avail.
“Mike Jones made the tackle!“
19 years ago today, the Rams LB stopped Kevin Dyson on the last play of Super Bowl XXXIV.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 30, 2019
Kevin Dyson and the Titans’ elation turned into grief in just three short weeks.
Dyson was so despondent in the weeks after the game he barely ate, became more reclusive, and slept fitfully at night, per Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg.
He also developed twenty painful canker sores in his mouth that made him tear up.
Dyson and Jones – the linebacker who tackled him in Super Bowl XXXIV – forged a unique friendship in the ensuing years.
Dyson was impressed with Jones downplaying his game-saving tackle.
“He ended up giving me a whole new outlook,” he told Eisenberg in January 2019. “I was able to be at peace with what happened and release it instead of holding onto it. Up until then, it kind of hovered over me.”
Dyson bounced back from an injury-riddled 2000 campaign that forced him to sit out fourteen games with a career-high 825 receiving yards and seven touchdown receptions a year later.
When Dyson took the field for his fourth pro season, the Titans regressed from a 13-win team in 2000 to a seven-win squad that missed the postseason for the first time in three years.
He caught for 460 yards and four touchdowns on 41 receptions in his fifth season in Nashville in 2002.
The Titans won eleven games but lost to the then-Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game, 41-24.
It turned out to be Dyson’s last year in the Music City.
The Carolina Panthers signed Dyson for the 2003 NFL season.
At this point in Dyson’s pro football career, he had four surgeries in three years. He suited up for the Panthers in just one regular season game.
Fortunately for Dyson, he took the field briefly for the Panthers in their 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
It was Dyson’s second Super Bowl appearance. He played a far less significant role this time around.
It was also his last game in the National Football League.
After brief stints with the then-San Diego Chargers and the then-Washington Redskins in 2004 and 2005, respectively, Dyson hung up his cleats at the age of 30.
Kevin Dyson had 2,325 yards and 18 touchdowns on 178 receptions in 59 career games.
Dyson admitted to ESPN his pro football career didn’t turn out the way he had expected. However, “The Music City Miracle” will always remain special to him:
“My career didn’t end up the way I had anticipated and wanted it to. I had a lot of injuries, and things that happened during my career.”
“This play, though, it made me somewhat relevant twenty years later. To still be talked about twenty years later, it’s something that I don’t take for granted.”
Kevin Dyson and his wife LaRosa have four children. They currently reside in the Nashville, TN area.
Dyson has been active in community service since his days on the NFL gridiron.
According to the Redskins.com, he has sponsored 15 to 20 children from his mother’s church to attend a youth leadership conference every year.
Dyson and his brother Andre have been sending 20 to 30 children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Salt Lake City to every Utah Utes football game.
The Dyson brothers have also been hosting football camps in the Salt Lake City area.
After he retired from the National Football League, he pursued his master’s degree and doctorate degree in education at Trevecca Nazarene University.
He also coached the wide receivers at Nashville’s Glencliff High School from 2007 to 2009.
A year later, Dyson became the head football coach at Independence High School in Thompson’s Station, TN, per UtahUtes.com.
It was at this point when Dyson fell in love with the administrative side of education, per USA Football’s Eric Moreno:
“While I was coaching in high school, I developed a love of learning that I never had before, and I wanted to challenge myself in new ways.”
“That’s when I started progressing in the administrative side of it.”
Dyson also served as assistant principal and athletic director at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna, TN.
From Music City Miracle to High School Principal ✏️
— NFL Films (@NFLFilms) November 18, 2021
In the midst of Dyson’s academic career, he was inducted into the Crimson Club Athletics Fund Hall of Fame on September 5, 2014.
“For me to go in, I’m humbled by it,” Dyson told BlockU.com. “I was a little shocked.”
He worked as the principal of Grassland Middle School from 2019 to 2021.
Dyson took over as Centennial High School’s principal on July 1, 2021.
Dyson announced Tennessee Titans tackle Dillon Radunz as the 53rd overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft.
He also does pre-and post-game analysis for the Tennessee Titans Radio Network and 104.5 The Zone.
Dyson co-hosts the “3 The Pro Way” podcast with former Titans wide receiver Joey Kent and former college athlete Todd Campbell.
Dyson’s hobbies include riding roller coasters and restoring old cars such as his 1964 Chevy Impala, per Redskins.com.