Instead of a suit and tie they donned shorts and cleats, readying themselves for their one chance to impress coach Bruce Arians. They were joined by a few other hopefuls who took another flight and stayed in another hotel with the end goal of signing another NFL contract.
It is life as a lesser-known free agent, and McCann and Taylor, who were both signed by the Cardinals on Thursday, know it all too well.
After being cut after last season’s training camp by the Oakland Raiders, McCann, who played in eight games for the Miami Dolphins last season, had seven tryouts in eight weeks. An airplane became his second mode of transportation. At one point he ran
“Every time I turned around I was on a plane,” he said.
Even though his tryouts took him to Dallas, Chicago, New England, Atlanta and Kansas City, he couldn’t keep the frequent-flyer miles.
“I wish I could,” McCann said with a laugh.
For McCann and Taylor, who had three tryouts last season, last week’s with the Cardinals was their first this year.
“One and done,” Taylor said enthusiastically.
After arriving in Arizona, they underwent physicals and then took the field in front of Arians and members of the front office. For about 25 minutes they went through nine defensive back drills that helped the Cardinals’ staff determine if they would be able to contribute to the secondary.
But neither McCann nor Taylor concerned themselves with that. The pressure of making a team went away with their first tryout years ago.
“Once you’ve been doing it for so long, the pressure’s over with,” said Taylor, who also tried out with the Cardinals in 2011. “You go out there and perform and you ain’t got nothing to worry about.
“I’m not going to say it’s stressful but it’s an opportunity. You come out and do your best and hope for the best.”
After so many rejections, McCann has developed a thick skin. He learned years ago that the NFL is a business and the decisions made aren’t personal. It’s helped him take the same approach to every tryout: “I got to make sure I’m the best one on the field,” he said.
Each team has their own way of conducting tryouts, both McCann and Taylor agreed.
Some handle them like the Cardinals, focusing on football and fundamentals. Others put free agents through a mini-pro day, having them do cone drills, bench presses, a vertical jump and the 40.
“I’d much rather go out there and do some drills and show you what I can do,” McCann said.
The trips are quick but the results can be long-lasting. While the other free agents went home, McCann and Taylor joined a rebuilt roster that was thin with secondary relief.
For the time being the discouragement is gone and the stress of living out of a duffle bag is over. Their job interviews, by all accounts, were a success but McCann and Taylor aren’t settling down just yet.
“It’s a weight off your shoulders,” McCann said. “You can never really be too relaxed in this business because you just know how things go (after) seeing a lot of crazy things.
“You can’t just be too relaxed but it feels good for the time being.”