Al Wilson flashed a smile and made it clear there's nothing like the feeling he experienced 10 years ago.
Nothing Wilson ever saw in the NFL compared to the emotion of a Tennessee-Florida football game.
"This has always been the pinnacle of UT's season, playing the Florida Gators," the former UT All-American linebacker said after addressing the Vols at their Friday walkthrough. "When I was here, that was the team that really made the difference in our season.
"It's still that way to this day. It's a great rivalry."
Wilson, who retired last week from football after eight NFL seasons and five Pro Bowl years with the Denver Broncos, will be the Legend of the Game when UT plays host to Florida at 3:30 p.m. today.
UT coach Phillip Fulmer couldn't have asked for a better inspirational leader to fire up the Vols.
That was Wilson's forte when UT beat Florida 20-17 in overtime in 1998 en route to a national championship. Apparently, it's still a forte.
"Al Wilson just spoke to our team and you could hear the quiver in his voice and see the brow wrinkle," Fulmer said. "It's an emotional game in a setting like this and in a game as big as this one can be. He's a special guy."
Wilson tried to the let the current Vols understand how the rivalry used to be viewed back in his day.
"I just wanted to give the guys my take on how we felt back in '98 when it was time for us to go out and get the job done," Wilson said. "It was a great feeling just to be in the locker room again."
Wilson had 12 tackles and forced a school-record three fumbles in UT's victory against the Gators in 1998. Just thinking back to that day brought it all flooding back.
"Without a doubt, that game is No. 2 on my all-time list," Wilson said. "Of course No. 1 would be the national championship, but that Florida game was kind of that stairway to get to the national championship.
"Once we got past that one early, we felt pretty good about our chances to do something special."
Tennessee was an underdog that day in '98 and the Vols are underdogs again to the No. 4-ranked Gators.
"That's a tradition of the University of Tennessee, we step up when the challenge requires us to," Wilson said. "Back in '98, we had to step up because nobody gave us a chance and we found a way to get it done.
"For the most part, that's what it is all about. Besides the Super Bowl, which I never had a chance to play in, nothing compares to going out and playing in front of 100,000-plus."
After addressing the team Friday, Wilson said he had a good feeling about the matchup today.
"You know what, I think they're ready," he said. "Every player was looking me in my eyes and I was looking in theirs to see if I could get a read on them.
"Coach Fulmer said they had a great week of practice and I know it will be one of those games a lot of Tennessee fans will remember."