Heroes: I feel kinda silly. I mean, here I am, this grown-man all bummed out about a football player becoming a free agent. I mean, grow up.
But here I am, grieving and moaning as the reality sinks in regarding the news that Eddie George has been granted his request to be released from the Titans. I knew the day would come. I knew, NFL cap situation and incentive-threatening-playing-time-cutbacks and agents and ego and you-name-it being what they are, the chance of Eddie George finishing his career as a Titan was remote. However, I wanted to believe.
In five seasons as the Titans (ask anyone, the first two “Oilers” years don’t count), the team has more wins than any other NFL team. All but one year, they’ve made the playoffs and have made it as far as the Super Bowl. Great legends like Bruce Matthews and Frank Wycheck have retired and we’ve had our share of still-greats like Jevon Kearse leave via the free agent route. We’ve learned to accept those ebbs and flows of the NFL. But today, a new reality of the NFL is finally sinking in to a lot of folks in Nashville.
That’s because to us first generation Titans fans, Eddie George not only is a Titan; he is the Titans. He’s the Titans personified, incarnate. He’s bigger than life on and off the field. His work ethic is legendary. His leadership, inspiring. He never gave up nor did he allow his teammates or fans to give up. Face it, the chants of Ed-die, Ed-die will echo up the Cumberland from the Coliseum forever. In our innocent hearts and minds, there could never be the Titans without Eddie. Never. But, alas.
I don’t care how old I am or one day will be, there is something about becoming an NFL home team football fan that allows me to revisit childhood and recall what it’s like to pretend football players are heroes. Sure, I’m fully aware that human limitations of the real-people who play football mean they rarely measure up to the myth. But as long as there are Eddie Georges, I can still pretend.
(P.S. For the record, Steve McNair will never become a free agent. Or grow older and retire, for that matter. No way.)