I have a post on on last weekend’s trip to Nashville. I also did, but didn’t note here some preview thoughts for last weekend’s game, and a post on the Titans’ starting quarterback. Some thoughts on fandom that I decided not to put in the post on Nashville:
The Auburn grad referenced in the post noted that Titans games have more of a college-type environment. Not really having been to any big-time college games, I can’t really comment on that, but the profusion of the Pro Bowl jerseys, which I’ve always regarded as stupid gimmicks, struck me as somewhat illustrative of a broader attitude. In my attitude to games, I try not to treat NFL and college players the same-the demands, rewards, and expectations are necessarily harsher on NFL players. College players, I criticize on here, but I try to temper that criticism, keep it relatively impersonal and reasonable. NFL players, though, deserve no such leniency. Nashville, Tennessee, the Mid-South region that’s home to the Titans-that’s college football country. They’re still fundamentally college football fans-the Auburn guy recognized it, and I recognize it. There’s a certain ruthlessness, a lack of sentimentality required in being a true pro sports fan-a recognition that players come and go. Nashville, though, doesn’t have this mentality. Take, for example, last Sunday. Before the game, Kevin Dyson was honored.
Now, Dyson was involved in two of the most memorable plays in franchise history-Home Run Throwback, and getting tackled at the 1, but he’s better known around the league as “the guy taken ahead of Randy Moss,” and that’s not selling Dyson’s career short. He had a couple memorable plays, but was never a particularly good nor productive NFL wideout. And he got a really nice ovation, and he’s not the only guy. Eddie, another hero. McNair, another local hero. The love for Wycheck is even worse, but let’s go back to Dyson. If the Titans had taken the flier on Moss, I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest they could easily have won at least 1, and possibly as many as 3 Super Bowls, yet freakin’ Dyson gets a really nice ovation without ever being a key part of a particularly good pass offense. It just doesn’t make sense, unless you think of it as a college team. A college player’s career only lasts a couple season, and a season can easily be defined by a couple key plays, much more so than in the NFL. Van Tiffin is still a household name in Alabama for a kick to win the Iron Bowl, and who cares if he was a mediocre kicker for his career. That’s what a college career is. For pro teams, though, you need a better idea of what is, and isn’t, actually good, and Dyson was never good. The media can be soft on players everywhere, and is, but the fans, well, fans aren’t always nice. I’m not saying they need to be Philly fans, but a little ruthlessness is a good thing, and Tennesseans don’t seem to have it. Maybe this speaks highly of them and less so of me, maybe this will change as the Titans begin what is really the second era in Nashville, but it’s an attitude that just seems wrong to me.