Nashville sports fans know that this weekend’s Tennessee Titans game is undoubtedly one of the biggest games in city history, even rivaling the Nashville Predators’ deep playoff run back in 2017 and the Titans’ own Super Bowl appearance back in 2000.
After all, any time your team makes it to the “Final Four” in professional sports, local interest peaks and increased national attention comes with it. This Sunday will be no different as the Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, looking for their 2nd Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
For the Nashville Predators, supporting the Tennessee Titans on this memorable run is not only part of the local kinship of professional sports teams, it’s also a part of returning the favor from the Titans’ support during the Preds’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2017.
Preds & Titans: Team Smashville
Everybody remembers the Titans’ offensive line and Marcus Mariota showing up to wave rally towels, chug beer through a catfish before Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Several Titans players have been a particularly noticeable fans of the Preds over the years.
Is this Taylor Lewan? pic.twitter.com/bPcWDO6U6y
— Dan (@DanDBradley) April 13, 2018
So now that the Titans are on a familiar run in the NFL playoffs, plenty of Preds players feel a certain kinship with their gridiron neighbors.
“It’s obviously a little tougher to get to support them, to go to the games, because of the schedule,” Filip Forsberg said on Friday. “But yeah we’re doing everything we can from the sidelines,” then alluding to a watch party he attended with several other players for Saturday’s 28-12 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
“There was the one game we couldn’t watch, when they played the Pats, we couldn’t see that one. But obviously we saw the Baltimore game when we were in Winnipeg. They’ve been playing well.”
During Thursday’s game with the Anaheim Ducks, the Preds played a video tribute to the Titans, with highlights from the win over the Ravens and references to the “#TeamSmashville” hashtag, birthed sometime during the 2017 Stanley Cup run.
The Preds also had a “Titan Up” graphic on the ice during warmups, something that will presumably stay up before Saturday night’s game against Buffalo.
— Titans Family Mexico (@TitansFamilyMex) January 17, 2020
Normally Preds in-game video tributes on the big screen are hockey related. A former player making a return home, a tribute to a milestone moment, or even celebrating the first goalie goal in the NHL in seven years.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) January 11, 2020
But putting together a highlight package for the local football team that was so openly supportive of the Preds during their Cup run makes perfect sense. This sort of cross-sports support is not something you’ll see in every sports city, mostly because the “small town” kinship tends to get lost in big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.
But for “Team Smashville” you would expect nothing less.
Of course, it’s a shame that highlights of Derrick Henry bulldozing through the Ravens’ defense didn’t inspire a better performance from the Preds on the ice Thursday night, but that’s another article for another day.
Filip Forsberg: Titans are “playing their best football” right now
Forsberg also mentioned that he thinks the Titans are battle tested enough to make it through to the Super Bowl.
“It will be obviously another very tough match, but they pulled through two really tough ones before and you can definitely not rule them out. They have a really great playoff type of football.”
Incidentally, there are plenty of comparisons between this Titans playoff run and the run the Preds made in 2017. Both made the playoffs as the “final” Wild Card team and had to take on (and eventually defeat) sports dynasties in the first round. The Preds of course beat the Chicago Blackhawks in a four game sweep and the Titans beat the New England Patriots 20-13, before taking out the top seeded Baltimore Ravens.
“We played what everybody thought was going to be a Stanley Cup champion that year in the first round,” Forsberg said. “Maybe not exactly the same as the [Titans beating the Patriots] this year, but obviously, Baltimore everybody thought they were going to be the team to beat and then they did. So definitely there are similarities.”
Of course, the Preds went on to make their first Stanley Cup appearance that year after beating the Anaheim Ducks in six games. If the Titans are going to match that feat, they will have to get by a tough Kansas City Chiefs team on the road.
That’s something Forsberg thinks they can do.
“Their best players have been playing their best football at the right time. They are playing well, yeah I’m excited.”
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —