Born in Nashvillia, the Tennessee Titans press conference on Wednesday was a special one, announcing that Steve McNair and Eddie George are retiring.
The Middle Tennesseans who won the "NFL YES!" – Having witnessed campaign to bring professional football to Nashville, have understood the effects of the titans on this city. That caused quite a stir and made the Super Bowl run in 1999 indescribable. On a Sunday in the fall, it had something to do with a crowded Adelphia Coliseum. Talk about a real home advantage.
It was a special moment for someone who saw much of Steve McNair's and Eddie Georges' career in two-tone blue as their numbers were immortalized. The brand of football that these teams played was tough, robust and ultimately won many games for the franchise.
As a 12-year-old boy, September 12, 1999 was an experience I'll never forget. It was the first NFL game in Nashville when McNair, George and the Titans competed against the Cincinnati Bengals. This opening game is branded in my head because it ended like this. My dad bought tickets somewhere in the 300 class and my whole family held their breath as Al Del Greco scored a 33-yard field goal and defeated the Bengals 12 seconds from time to mark the start of a magical season.
Sport is a crucial catalyst when it comes to bringing cities together and kindling a fire in a community. Listening to how Eddie George described what a competitor Steve McNair was during his 2003 MVP campaign made me shiver at St. Thomas Sports Park.
The Titans' voice, Mike Keith, told us that this would be the first time in NFL history that numbers 9 and 27 would be retired by an NFL team.
After the press conference, I had the opportunity to shake hands with Eddie and congratulate him on his outstanding career. As I turned away from this handshake, I began to wonder what the most memorable moment was when I saw the Titans all these years … By coincidence, it's a piece that Eddie George did.
I remember sitting in my parents' living room watching Eddie George watch himself on the RCA dome board as he scored a 68-yard touchdown that finally helped the Titans, Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison and the 13-3 Indianapolis Colts in the arena beat divisional round of the AFC playoffs in January 2000.
When the Titans compete in the home game against the Indianapolis Colts this year, the fans at Nissan Stadium are on their feet celebrating the career of two titans of all time. Steve McNair and Eddie George built the foundation for a franchise. Now numbers 9 and 27 symbolize the hard work and dedication that was made all those years ago to pave the way for anyone who ever wears the bicolor blue.
– Selected image of the Associated Press –