Super Memories With Dad - Soapbox Jr.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’re most likely aware that the Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII that’s 58 for those who have trouble with Roman numerals. I always know what the number is without looking because every year, I’m always the same age as the Super Bowl.
I’ve been blessed to make it to two of them, so far. The most recent one was in 2005 for number 39 - XXXIX - when Dad and Gretchen Wilson performed in the pregame show.
"Bridges" was the theme because the City of Jacksonville has a lot of bridges, and the NFL used that as a metaphor for bridging age gaps in their pregame show performers. Like, Black Eyed Peas performed and then had their musical heroes Earth Wind & Fire perform along with them.
And Gretchen Wilson was invited to perform as well, and her career was hot as a firecracker at the time and she performed her hit, “Here For the Party,” and she invited one of her heroes, dad who performed part of The Devil Went Down to Georgia in a combined band of both Gretchen’s the CDB. She did sing that she knew all the words to every Charlie Daniels song, after all.
I was on the field for the performance, and it was an amazing atmosphere. The crowd was rocking, pyrotechnics going off… It was a great feeling and I was very proud that I got to be there on the field in what was a very high-profile appearance for dad and the band. As BEP and EWF were closing out the pregame show, dad and Gretchen joined them on stage. One of the Peas grabbed dad’s hat and put it on, but dad was good-natured about it.
But as much as I enjoyed that, it wasn’t what makes this one of my favorite memories.
No, it was after the performance, and we were headed through the tunnels to go to the suite that they had for our people to watch the game in.
As we were walking, security held us back and said that “The Presidents” were coming through. Well, at the time, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were something of a presidential “Odd Couple” who had been making appearances together. Clinton was working the back of the tunnel where we were shaking hands, and President Bush was working the front, and we spoke to him first, and I asked if I could get a picture of the three of us together.
We did, and it’s just absolutely hilarious… look behind us. It looks like Bill just jumped in and photobombed us… “Like Hey! Y’all don’t forget about me!” I’m sure he just happened to turn around at the exact time we were taking the picture, but it’s quite comical.
But we lingered there a few more minutes, and then security started escorting us to the suite again. I was walking close to Gretchen and I heard her say… “Euuuughhhh!”
I said "What’s wrong?" and she said “Bill Clinton wouldn’t let go of my hand…”
And I said the first thing that popped into my mind which was, “and you don’t know where that hand has been…”
And Gretchen said “I KNOW!”
A truly memorable time, but it was less about the game than it was about the festivities because our team wasn’t playing, the game was between the Patriots and the Eagles.
But there was a game in January 2000 in Atlanta and that was all about football for us, and Dad and I were there to watch Super Bowl XXXIV as our team, the Tennessee Titans took on the St. Louis Rams in a game for the ages.
When I was growing up, Dad and I were Cowboys fans – later reformed. Dad never could get over the undignified way Jerry Jones let Tom Landry – the only coach the franchise had known since its inception go. The argument could be made that it was time for a change, but the man was an institution and he felt it should have been handled differently.
So, we didn’t really have a favorite team for a while, but our second favorite team growing up had been the Houston Oilers, largely to the “Tyler Rose” the mighty locomotive known as Earl Campbell.
I remember the Mike Renfro “non-catch” in the playoff game with the Steelers that ended up being one of the driving forces behind the implementation of a replay system, I remember “Luv Ya Blue!” and I remember Coach Bum Phillips threatening to kick the door down next year (paraphrasing.)
Living in Knoxville at the time, early 1990s, I was more into college ball and the Vols as opposed to the NFL, but I remember some disappointing moments as a semi-Oilers fan, the playoff loss to the Bills that the Oilers blew the biggest lead ever in a game – at the time – and the time that defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
I casually watched football through much of the 90s, and even when the Oilers moved to Tennessee, I didn’t pay that much attention. After all, in 1997, they were playing in Memphis, and then they played at Vanderbilt for the 1998 season, three straight 8-8 seasons, but Dad and I did make it to the last game at Vanderbilt. The Oilers were taking on the Minnesota Vikings, and if I remember correctly, if they had won, they would have gotten in the post season as a Wild Card, but they did not.
However, they did hand out a nice souvenir, a rally cloth with a new logo and a new name, Tennessee Titans.
And that last loss at Vanderbilt was the turning of the page for the franchise.
In 1999, there was a new stadium to go along with the new name and uniforms, and so many of the players became legends in Nashville, Eddie George, Steve “Air” McNair, Bruce Matthews, Jevon Kearse, Brad Hopkins, Kevin Dyson, Blaine Bishop and Frank Wycheck, just to name a few.
Despite Dad’s busy schedule, he and I did attend several games that season, which was a great feeling, especially since they were undefeated at home.
The season had its ups and downs, but for the first time in several years, the franchise made it back to the post season.
First up, the team that embarrassed the Oilers in the playoffs just a few years before, the Buffalo Bills.
A slugfest of a game and a late field goal put the Bills in front with only :16 left on the clock. Then one of the most analyzed and improbable trick plays in the history of the league carried the team to victory, the infamous Music City Miracle. It was clearly – even though it was ever so slightly – a backwards pass, it goes back about six inches from Wycheck’s hand to the line where Dyson catches it. The fact that Dyson has to step back is what I believe is the stumbling block for those who still think it was a forward pass, most of them in the area around Lake Erie.
The Titans then went to Indianapolis to take on Tennessee favorite son Peyton Manning, and it was another hard fought game, but the Titans were headed to Jacksonville, FL for the first AFC Championship game in twenty years.
I drove down to Jacksonville for the game, and it was one to remember. The Jaguars fans were pumped because no team had ever beaten another team three times in one season, with the last game being at their home field, the Titans had won in Jacksonville and in Nashville already during the regular season.
But the fans were excited, and confident, as was the team and the front office because….
They released a Super Bowl song on the eve of the AFC Championship Game. Yep! Before the game had even been played, “Uh Oh! The Jaguars Super Bowl Song” had been leaked and as legend has it, in the last team meeting the night before the game, Coach Jeff Fisher played a videotape of the song for his team, and let it sink in.
To call the game a blow-out would not exactly be accurate, but Iit got more lopsided as the game went on, but both teams fought hard in the first half. In fact the Titans were down by 4 at halftime, but surged back for a final score of 33-14.
The former team from Houston was playing in its first Super Bowl, against another relocated team, the St. Louis Rams.
A lot of Jaguars fans are still sore about a jab that Coach Fisher took at their team during one of the Super Bowl’s press conferences about his team having three home stadiums in three years, Fisher said that some have said they have had four home stadiums in three years, if you count Jacksonville.
Yes, it was a jab, but then again... after “Uh Oh!” it’s not unexpected.
Dad was in Colorado at the time, as he usually was in January, but we were heading to Atlanta. He came home, and Dean Tubb drove their bus down to Atlanta for the game with the Rams
It was an amazing atmosphere, all kinds of exhibits and attractions, and fans of all the teams were there, I distinctly remember a contingent of four young ladies who were obviously from Buffalo, and still hadn’t gotten over the Music City Miracle by each wearing a glitter shirt with a different word, “Lateral,” “Pass,” “My,” “A$$.”
The game was exciting and frustrating. The Titans defense kept the Rams out of the endzone and made them settle for field goals, however the Titans were having their own troubles, and had a missed field goal and a blocked one.
Then Steve McNair and Eddie George put the team on their backs and tied the game up. It was unbelievable.
Then came disaster, the Titans were without their two starting safeties, Marcus Robertson who broke his foot in Jacksonville, and Blaine Bishop was carted off the field in an ambulance earlier in the game, that left the Titans secondary vulnerable, and the high-powered Rams took advantage of it with QB Kurt Warner throwing a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce to make the score 21-17.
It looked bleak, but Steve McNair turned in one of the most unbelievable performances I had ever seen. He willed the team down the field, and gave them one chance with :10 left in the game, the play was designed to get into the endzone, a pass across the middle to Kevin Dyson, but linebacker Mike Jones stopped him at the one-yard line. At the angle Dad and I were at, it was hard to tell if he had gotten in or not, but he didn’t make it.
The confetti cannons started going off and the Rams began celebrating their victory. The team that traveled from Houston to Memphis to Vanderbilt and finally to their own shiny new stadium gave it a valiant effort, but it wasn’t enough. The St. Louis Rams were world champions.
I’m still proud of that Titans team. Dad and I never gave up until the last second, and neither did they. We both thought it was one of the best Super Bowls we had ever seen.
I’m sure it stung, but those guys could hold their heads up high.
I look forward to going to another Super Bowl, and I believe with all my heart that the Titans will go back someday, and finally take care of the unfinished business from January 30th of 2000.
I just wish Dad and I could go together to see what began back in 1999 finally come true.
Here’s to a great game!
What do you think?
Let’s all make the day count!
Pray for our troops, our police, the Peace of Jerusalem and our nation.
God Bless America!
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