Ery Ya Ready fer Sum Football?
it's official, Nashville opened a new football stadium and is now a major league
city with a REAL football team and a REAL stadium. I attended the opening game
the other night and it was certainly like nothing I've ever seen - more like a
country music video production than a sporting event -- but then, this IS
Nashville, and it isn't as if we've never seen show biz before.
Yep, it was definitely big time entertainment stuff. Four
hundred media people there, and 65,700 fans. Even ESPN showed up. E-S-P-N
-that's another word for Every Screaming Person in Nashville. The stadium holds
67,700 and it was a sellout. I kept worrying about where the other 2000 were.
"Yawl hurry up - somebody's gonna get your seat! Don't yawl care?"
Probably stuck in the traffic outside or still waiting for the shuttle parade to
Or maybe they just figured like my son, who gave away his ticket
to me, that a pre season game wasn't worth worrying about, and he'd rather go to
St. Louis and watch the Cardinals play baseball!
If you read my column at Super Bowl time last year, you know
what kind of fan I am and probably wonder what I was doing there. I'm not sure
myself except, like I said, the ticket was free - my favorite word. Since I work
downtown anyhow, it was just a short walk across the Cumberland River bridge to
There were droves of people walking; seems planners forgot about
building a parking garage and are running shuttles to remote cow pastures all
over Tennessee. They do things like that here. Same story at the new arena.
Probably still people circling out there looking for a parking place. But, what
I really hadn't figured on was those stadium ramps. Climbed for what seemed like
an hour, passing mountain goats and weather balloons, till I finally made it to
my premium priced seat in the lower stratosphere.
I came prepared to hate the game -- but turns out it was really
just a flashy, well-staged show. Football was kinda the extra added attraction.
There were fantastic scoreboards at each end of the field with slick video
productions, rock music, and a light screen that told the crowd when to do the
wave -- football fans not being smart enough to figure it out on their own.
There were giant inflated football figure balloons, sexy
cheerleaders, a raccoon mascot, video close-ups of fans being fans, and
everything was flashed on the big screen. Faith Hill, a country music star, sang
the national anthem and a genuine bald eagle from a Tennessee wildlife refuge
was released and soared over the crowd. (Even our wildlife is show biz here.)
Country stars were flashed on the video screen to endorse and cheer the team,
and Hank Williams, Jr. screamed, "Ere ya ready fer sum football?" The
Fireworks erupted after every point scored. The crowd was wild,
especially by the fourth quarter when the beer hit ‘em good. One fan took off
his shirt and decided to lead the crowd in cheering, waving and yelling, "Roo,
roo, never give up!!" Excuse me, sir...but the Titans are winning. He musta
been a student from Vanderbilt, not use to ever actually winning one.
And the game? Well, the Oil.... er.... Titans... (blush) did
play hard. Wanted to win for the opening crowd, I guess. Scored early in the
game and Atlanta was never able to catch ‘em. So, Nashville has pro football
team AND a pro football stadium now. Nashville, cosmopolitan city with a rural
flavor, has another entertainment extravaganza.
Course, they have already played another game since all this
happened, and they lost it on some sort of strange call by a referee. In other
words, "We wuz robbed!" People from around here just really don't want
to talk about it. Besides, UT will be opening their season soon, and that is
what most people consider the REAL football team from Tennessee anyway.