As I watched the Titans get decimated in early December against a Giants team that finished 6-10, I said “nevermore”. Don’t do that, by the way. The team had the misfortune of completing the 2014 “campaign of tears” with three December home games. I’m going to guess that while they were technical sellouts, these games represented the smallest actual crowds in Nashville franchise history.
An email forwarded from my dad from a PR rep of the team changed my mind. I’m near the end of my annual late-December vacation, so I could spare a couple days to head north.
Last time I completed this journey, I focused on the finer fried-chicken joints from Atlanta to Nashville. This time, I kept the general theme going, stopping at Chattanooga institution Champy’s. Fried tenders in buffalo sauce and fries. You probably shouldn’t operate heavy machinery after that experience.
I discovered that yes indeedy, there are other professional sporting squads in the Nashville area. My dad’s friend has one season ticket to the Nashville Predators, and he was able to get two extra seats in the lower area, so I couldn’t say no. I’ll say this about hockey. The team’s way more social-media savvy, using different platforms for contests and such. Tony, the season-ticket holder, has a card that gives him discounts on concessions. I was shocked that a Dos Perros cost “just” $6.75, compared to the $9 that I’d plunk down for a Blackstone Nut Brown Ale.
Many years ago I attended a Predators game with my wife, and we loved the “fang finger” salute the fans give during power plays and the fact that the team gave away free tacos when the team scored five goals. This time it was four goals and your ticket could be redeemed for a Frosty. The crowd got into a couple of “Frosty” chants.
One thing I love about other sports is the chants. At the Titans game it’s all pumped in noise and it kills the fan’s ability to just yell at the players on the field. After the Predators scored a goal, they chanted the goalie’s name, followed by “It’s all your fault, it’s all your fault.”
And let me conclude the Saturday portion of the weekend by saying it was unusual to see the home team 1) have a lead and 2) keep it for the duration of the contest.
What on earth would get me to a Titans game on December 28? Selected season-ticket holders were allowed to go on the field to hold up a “Titan Up” flag before the game. That was the gist of the forwarded email. I didn’t know exactly what that would entail so I said what the heck. Let me say that the weather was as inviting as the matchup. The Colts had clinched the 4 seed in the upcoming playoffs, so they had nothing to play for, save being the 10th team in a row to beat the Titans coming off a defeat.
We met under the shadow of the Frank Wycheck banner. I guess it’s hard to have shadows when the sun isn’t out. We hung out with fellow Titan fans and found out that most of us had complained to the team and received this pre-game honor as a mea sucka of sorts. A couple of youngster team officials wearing nice shoes about to be ruined led us down to the bowels of the stadium. We lined up, about 40 fans or so, and held the sides of the giant flag.
At first I assumed the flag would be a set of individual flags and I had daydreams of holding it upside-down in protest, because protesting a 2-13 NFL franchise is the height of badassery. Everyone had their phones out and when I took a picture of my dad, a security person told me that pictures weren’t allowed in the tunnel, but they were OK on the field. I didn’t totally get that until the Indianapolis Colts, all giant men, walked by for their final prep before the game. One person yelled “Andrew Luck, I drafted you on my fantasy team” and I was glad nobody yelled at him for sucking in fantasy championship week.
We did see former Titan Matt Hasselbeck recognize one of the Titan flacks and give him a handshake. I wonder if the Munchak era would have been different had the higher-ups realized that Hass was the best Titan QB since McNair.
We got the green light to walk on the field. The sidelines were nothing but mud. There was a strong desire to take pictures, but it was hard to do while holding a giant flag in one hand. That was the issue the entire time. We lined up on the North end of the field, expanded the flag, then hung out for the whole pregame ceremony, from the national anthem to the fireworks to Adam Vinatieri and Ryan Succop attempting field goals from 15 yards away from us. I wondered if we’d get to keep the football if a punter hit us with a stray kick. We showed up on the Titans’ uber Jumbotron which was nice. Eventually it was time to push the flag back together and walk off. We were in the tunnel when the kickoff happened and had to rush back to our seats to see how quickly the Colts would score.
I suggested to my dad that we leave at halftime and he agreed, deciding to start our cold journey back to the car at the two-minute warning. The Titans kept it close but it was clear that they were outmatched.
That was the final memory of the season, walking over a bridge, getting rained on and blown around by the wind, trying desperately to recall a time when the team wasn’t completely pathetic. Sadly, dreams of a #1 overall pick died when the Bucs blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. Even in losing, the Titans couldn’t be the best.
Final picture: Me with the Pacman jersey