As a native Nashvillian, Wednesday’s Tennessee Titans press conference announcing the retirement of Steve McNair and Eddie George’s numbers was something special.
The Middle Tennesseans who experienced the ‘NFL YES!’ campaign to bring professional football to Nashville understand the impact the Titans had on this city. That set up a buzz that made their Super Bowl run in 1999 indescribable. There was something about a packed-out Adelphia Coliseum on a Sunday in the fall. Talk about a true home field advantage.
It was a special moment for someone who watched the majority of Steve McNair and Eddie George’s career in two-tone blue get their numbers immortalized. The brand of football that those teams played was tough, rugged and ultimately won a lot of games for the franchise.
As a twelve year old boy, September 12th 1999 was an experience that I will never forget. It marked the first NFL game ever in Nashville as McNair, George and the Titans took on the Cincinnati Bengals. That inaugural game is etched in my mind because of how it finished. My dad bought tickets somewhere in the 300 level and my entire family held their breath as Al Del Greco booted a 33 yard game winning field goal with 12 seconds left to beat the Bengals and mark the beginning of what would become a magical season.
Sports is a key catalyst in bringing cities together and igniting a fire under a community. To hear Eddie George describe what kind of competitor Steve McNair was during his MVP campaign in 2003 brought chills to my skin sitting at St. Thomas Sports Park.
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Voice of the Titans, Mike Keith, told us that this would be the first time in NFL history that the numbers 9 and 27 would be retired by an NFL team.
After the press conference, I got a chance to shake Eddie’s hand and congratulate him on an outstanding career. Walking away from that handshake, it made me start to think what was the most memorable moment I had watching the Titans all of these years… Coincidently it’s a play that Eddie George made.
I can remember in my parents living room, watching Eddie George watch himself on the RCA Dome big board as he scored a 68 yard touchdown that eventually helped the Titans beat Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and the 13-3 Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs in January of 2000.
When the Titans face off against the Indianapolis Colts this year in their home opener, fans at Nissan Stadium will be on their feet cheering and celebrating the career of two all-time Titans. Steve McNair and Eddie George built the foundation of a franchise. Now, the numbers 9 and 27 will symbolize the hard work and dedication put in all of those years ago to pave the way for anyone who ever dons the two-tone blue.
— Featured Image by the Associated Press —