Why I’m an NFL football fan

Last week, I did something a die-hard fan should never do: I left at half-time in disgust when the home team fell behind 21-0. As I blogged later, it was a really dumb thing to do. I thought it would be years before I’d be able to see a game as exciting as last week’s. But earlier this afternoon, I got to witness the kind of magic the stadium in Nashville once was known for: a Titans come-from-two-touchdowns behind 20-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts who were, coming into the game, 10-1. Today, I got to witness a 60-yard field goal (the longest in the franchise’s history*) win the game. Today, I got to witness rookie quarterback Vince Young play a game in which he looked exactly as he did last year when he led the University of Texas to a national championship. I lost count, but he converted at least four long-yardage third downs with runs that, for some reason, the Colts could not counter.

The Titans are no-longer rebuilding. They may not be built, but it’s clear to see into the future — and it looks swell. As a fan who attends most home games, I witnessed something today that hasn’t happened for a long time at what is now called LP Field. My section — 134 for those of you who know the stadium — stood up for the entire final quarter and a half of the game. While I don’t think standing up for the duration of a game is a tradition in many NFL stadiums — especially for the fans who’ve spent a lot for the seats between the 40 yard lines in the lower sections. However, when the NFL came to Nashville, the new home-crowd brought along some college-football traditions to the stadium — like not sitting down and screaming continuously. It helped that the first year the team played in its current home, the Titans went undefeated at home and made it to the Super Bowl — a tradition was born: Home fans stayed on their feet and made lots of noise while the visiting team was on offense.

That tradition has been absent for a few seasons, but today it returned. This game was deja vu all over again, but even better. Better because I think fans appreciate the wins more. They now realize how the salary-caps and free agency of the NFL cause ebbs and flows in the fortunes of a team. They know that wins are great.

As my life is spent in quiet, I forget sometimes how therapeutic it can be to scream as loudly as possible for 90 or so minutes straight.

Having something fun and amazing to scream about with abandon. Jumping up and down and high-fiving people whose names I don’t know. Thinking that somehow I am helping the team win. Getting to believe in magic. This is why I’m a fan.

*Longest Field goals in NFL history (via NFL.com)

63 yards – Tom Dempsey, New Orleans vs. Detroit, Nov. 8, 1970
63 yards – Jason Elam, Denver vs. Jacksonville, Oct. 25, 1998
62 yards – Matt Bryant, Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia, Oct. 22, 2006
60 yards – Steve Cos, Cleveland vs. Cincinnati, Oct. 21, 1984
60 yards – Morten Andersen, New Orleans vs. Chicago, Oct. 27
60 yards – Rob Bironas, Tennessee vs. Indianapolis, Dec. 3, 2006

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