Sunday, December 21, 2008

Titans produce a product that no one will deny

I've never been to a Titans game due to the virtual robbery of public dollars in making the deal to bring the NFL team here and the even more spending that will be required to keep the team here.

Still, I've loved the NFL since being a child. A worshipped the Dallas Cowboys. As an adult, I got into fantasy football. The only NFL game I've attended was in the old Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, watching Dan Marino throw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton.

But today, I made it a point to take in the magic of the big business that is the NFL by walking to LP Field against the flow of 67,000 people -- after the Titans had finished demolishing the Steelers 31-14 on a very crisp Sunday before Christmas.

First, all the Steeler fans who descended on Nashville were very complimentary of Music City. Second, Titans' fans even in victory were most gracious. Class act, indeed. And they are smart football fans, too. They know the Steelers may well be back here for the AFC Championship game.

Closer to the stadium and in the parking lot, the stream of humanity had been reduced to puddles of people cooking from the back of their vehicles, or what's called tailgating. They were enjoying the moment in a festival atmosphere. And Steeler and Titan fans mingled and hoisted a cold one to another. Gee, if the UN could operate as effectively.

By 3:50 p.m., the crowd had thinned out enough around the stadium for a homeless man to feel safe enough to look through the trash receptacles on the north side of LP Field for aluminum cans. I looked at him, and he flinched. So I immediately shifted my eyes another direction so he could resume his act of survival.

By 4 p.m., city workers were pulling up the metal rails separating the four lanes on one bridge for fans to walk to and from the game.

By 4:05 p.m. on the downtown side of the Cumberland River, police and a few of us thought we had just witnessed a hit and run. A fan had fallen to the street, leaving a bleeding gash on the side of his head and a set of broken glasses. A group of us quickly surrounded him and the police came over. He was all right and walked away. I followed at a distance to make sure he still was all right.

Truly, the NFL puts on a great show. And Jeff Fisher puts a great team on the field every year, despite his handicap of a cheap owner. The Steeler fans have the advantage of being loyal to the classiest team in the league. The Rooney family truly is loyal to their city and its progress.

The same cannot be claimed about Titans's owner Bud Adams. He'll soon be demanding $170 million in contractural improvements to an aging LP Field. NFL owners always ask for more money when their teams have posted sensational seasons. The Titans have had a great one.

But it's obvious the buyers of this product are most satisfied. You can't say that about much anymore in America -- from newspapers to stock portfolios to automobiles. So go ahead and ask for the money now, Bud. You'll get it, no matter how many schoolchildren and neighborhoods must suffer.

The NFL is just too exciting to be denied.

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