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VOL. 46 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 12, 2022

True blue but not Titans’ two-tome hue. It’ll take some time

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It’s almost football season, time to renew my annual effort to transform myself into a Titans fan. Thus far that effort has met with limited success.

Perhaps because the effort has been rather halfhearted.

My true pro football loyalty, as I’ve mentioned before, lies with the New York Football Giants, owing to two factors: 20 years living in New York, and enduring allegiance to their starting quarterback for almost all of those years, Eli Manning.

I’m big on all things Manning. I rooted for the Saints when they drafted Archie, then quickly and permanently dumped them when they did the same to him. Shoot, I even pulled for the Vols when Peyton was there, and (easily) developed an abiding hatred for the Florida Gators.

And when Peyton went on to the Colts, and then the Broncos, I cheered him in both places and (also easily) developed an abiding hatred for his main nemesis, the New England Patriots.

Eli breathed life back into the Ole Miss program, then went on to deliver a couple of classic Super Bowl victories over those hated Patriots. Hooah!

But Eli no longer suits up for the G-Men, and I no longer live in New York. So it seems reasonable to consider transferring my fandom to the team that plays its home games roughly a mile from my house.

Another obvious inducement for switching teams would be having more to cheer about. Over the past five seasons, the Titans have won 50 games, while the Giants have managed only 22 victories. And Giants’ prospects for this year do not seem to include making the playoffs, while the Titans would consider it a failure if they don’t.

So I try to remain reasonably current with Titans news, dutifully consuming various team-related reports, including the truly trivial. Which is how I came across an article rating NFL helmet logos.

Hey, sports writers can’t always focus on the battle for left guard and right tackle, which I gather is a Titans concern. And besides, my tolerance for interior line intrigue is practically nil. I know, I know, games are won in the trenches, you have to control the line of scrimmage, establish the run, blah blah blah.

So, anyway, that article about helmet logos: The writer, Christian D’Andrea of USA Today’s For the Win, rated the Titans dead last among the 32 teams.

“Extreme create-a-team vibes remain for a team created in 1999,” he wrote. “Only the three small stars in the logo connect any of this to the Titans’ actual identity.”

Two comments here: One, the three small stars – patterned after the Tri-Star on the state flag – are a perfect, subtle nod to the Titans home. And two, this same writer judged the Titans helmet logo 20 spots worse than that of the Cleveland Browns, who – pardon my shouting – HAVE NO HELMET LOGO.

“A simple look that blends seamlessly with an underused color palette,” D’Andrea wrote of the Browns. Yeah. Hard to get much simpler than nothing.

This same writer, by the way, has a companion piece of sorts, ranking all the NFL away uniforms. He reckons the Titans last in that category, too: “Blue helmet, white jerseys, blue pants. No thank you. To all of this.”

Have I mentioned this guy is a graduate of Vanderbilt? You’d think he’d have some humility when it comes to Nashville football.

Feeling defensive about his slights indicates, I suggest, some progress for me in the Titans direction. And the fact of the matter is that, generally speaking, I would rather see the Titans win than lose. But the Titans did not help the potential bond for me when they dumped their second-best (and my favorite) player, the Ole Miss product A.J. Brown, before the draft.

And they not only dumped him, they dumped him to the Eagles, where the extremely talented Brown figures to do substantial damage to my Giants for who knows how many seasons to come.

On the positive side, I get that Derrick Henry is a force of nature, a speedy bulldozer of a runner who at his best can stiff-arm opponents into crumpled piles of irrelevance. But without him, as the Titans were for much of last year, the offense fails to inspire. And when the best way to describe your quarterback is “above average,” it’s hard to muster a lot of enthusiasm.

Perhaps Malik Willis will, in time, blossom into a star. Given his relatively spare dimensions, dare we hope for another Russell Wilson? Drew Brees?

Meanwhile, my Titans evolution remains a work in progress. A work that, by the way, will go into full pause on Sept. 11, when the Titans open the season hosting the New York Football Giants.

Go Blue. The real Blue.

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at jrogink@bmail.com

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