Titans' song: Unlikely hit tops charts

January 24, 2000|By Ken Rosenthal

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They are a country music song come to life: We haven't had a home.

Our quarterback doesn't throw.

We should have lost to Buffalo

Yee-hah! Titans in the Super Bowl.

They were the rejects, the wanderers, the orphans in Mr. Tagliabue's neighborhood. And now they're the poster boys for relocation, surviving broken homes in three cities, emerging as hardened road warriors.

Oh, commissioner Paul Tagliabue should be proud of the Tennesee Titans, who represent the essence of the 21st century NFL. He also should be proud that he chose Jacksonville as an expansion city, for the wisdom of his decision is now revealed.

In a normal metropolis, a gag job like the Jacksonville Jaguars' 33-14 loss to Tennessee yesterday might have been cause for civic unrest. But in the nation's 52nd-largest television market, who would have even noticed if there were a riot?

Bring on the Relocation Bowl.

Nashville vs. St. Louis.

The former Houston Oilers vs. the former Los Angeles Rams.

Bud Adams vs. Georgia Frontiere, heaven help us all.

Adams, a co-founder of the AFL, is heading to his first Super Bowl after 40 years as an owner, proving that there is hope for even the Ravens' Art Modell.

Yes, maybe it's time for Ravens fans to start planning for the 2001 Super Bowl. The Titans have won 10 of 11 games since Nov. 7. Their one setback? A 41-14 drubbing in Baltimore on Dec. 5.

"We got embarrassed," Tennessee running back Eddie George said. "Everyone definitely wrote us off. We had to bounce back, some way, somehow."

Four days later, the Titans did just that, grinding out a 21-14 victory over Oakland in a game that was scoreless at halftime.

They haven't lost since. And their postseason triumphs just keep getting more bizarre.

It started with the Music City Miracle, the lateral that beat Buffalo. It continued with the Righteous Replay, a ruling that nullified a long Indianapolis return. And it climaxed yesterday at ALLTEL Stadium, where Tennessee is 5-1.

Only the Titans could lose a fumble on the opponents' 1-yard-line and come out of it with nine points, scoring on a safety and an 80-yard free-kick return.

Only the Titans could outscore their opponents 23-0 in the second half after losing a receiver who had caught a touchdown pass (Yancey Thigpen) and a safety who had recorded an interception (Marcus Robertson).

Only the Titans could reach the Super Bowl with quarterback Steve McNair averaging only 100 yards passing in three playoff victories, completing more passes to his tight ends (16) than wide receivers (15).

Don't ask how they do it.

Just know that they are 5-0 this season against Jacksonville, Indianapolis and St. Louis, three teams with dynamic multiple offenses, three teams that went 43-5 against everyone else.

The Jaguars were seven-point favorites yesterday, and they produced 206 yards of offense while taking a 14-10 halftime lead. But they disintegrated in the second half, committing four of their six turnovers and seven of their nine penalties.

For a discipline freak like Tom Coughlin, the dropped passes, fumbled punts and poor decisions by quarterback Mark Brunell amounted to a particularly bitter poison. Oh, and let's not forget the Jaguars' most juvenile indiscretion, the recording of "Uh-oh, the Jaguars' Super Bowl Song."

When will teams learn? Six years ago, the San Diego Chargers used a similar stunt by the Pittsburgh Steelers as motivation for a road upset in the AFC championship game. Naturally, Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher couldn't wait to play the Jaguars' video at the conclusion of his final team meeting Saturday night.

"It went dead silent," tight end Jackie Harris said. "We broke up the meeting right after that. Guys are usually happy and laughing when the meeting's over. This time, we didn't say anything. It was the quietest I've ever heard it."

Maybe the Titans should make their own video:

"Uh-oh, the Jaguars' Swan Song."

"It was like, man, that's just unbelievable," middle linebacker Barron Wortham said. " I mean, against a team that whipped you twice in a row. And you make a video? I mean, that's bad football."

The video was made in November, but why should the Titans let the facts get in the way of a good story? They are unusually close after playing in four stadiums in four seasons. They didn't even consider the odds against them yesterday -- since 1970, no team had completed a three-game sweep of an opponent by winning a playoff game on the road.

"We were in a hostile environment at home in Memphis, and especially at Vanderbilt [in Nashville] last year," George said. "I remember sitting on the sideline playing against Minnesota on Christmas Day. They were going to the playoffs. And everyone was cheering for Minnesota."

Why didn't Nashville accept the team immediately?

"At that particular time, it wasn't popular to be a Tennessee Oilers fan," George said. "We had no home base. They really couldn't relate to the Oilers. When we got new uniforms and changed the name, it became their team, Tennessee's own."

Lucky Nashville. Jacksonville tried to steal the Oilers first, in 1987. Memphis was the expansion finalist from Tennessee in '93. Cleveland has never even produced a Super Bowl team. And here are those long-suffering Music City fans, getting there in Year Two.

Cue that country music:

We'll do it for Marcus. We'll do it for Yancey.

We sure as heck won't do it fancy.

Look out Rams, we're on a roll

Yee-hah! Titans in the Super Bowl.

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