Any sports fan worth his salted peanuts has a soft spot for Remember the Titans, the warm-and-fuzzy film about the charismatic head football coach at a Virginia high school. As the coach, Denzel Washington changes the fortunes of the varsity 11, but more importantly, he changes the attitudes of assorted doubters, bigots, and garden-variety haters.
Eight years later, another feel-good story is taking shape down in Tennessee. This one also involves a team called the Titans, but they play in the NFL. Last Sunday, the Titans became the 15th team since the 1970 merger to start a season 8-0. Perhaps this accomplishment didn't attract the attention it deserved because of a little thing called the presidential election. But frankly, while the Titans have been a scrappy "yes we can" kind of team, they've never really been the people's choice, at least for people who live outside of Nashville.
The Titans are more like the cast of the movie Wild Dogs. They are a rock-em, sock-em team that keeps the game simple by minimizing mistakes on offense and maximizing opportunities on defense. That the 2008 Titans lead the AFC in rushing and have allowed the fewest points in the entire NFL tells you pretty much all you need to know about this team's personality.
In this edition of Game of the Week, the Titans take it down to the proverbial wire against the Packers down in Nashville. Follow defensive end Jacob Ford as he sacks Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and forces a fumble, and you'll get a sense of how ferocious the Titans are. Take note of 15-year veteran quarterback Kerry Collins' determined leadership and rookie running back Chris Johnson's dazzling running and you'll see a team that has found some pretty good chemistry.
This game ultimately comes down to -- spoiler alert! -- the Titans winning a big game in the final seconds (well, in overtime, at least). Very dramatic. Very heartwarming. Very Hollywood.
Of the previous 14 teams that have started the season 8-0, half went on to win the Super Bowl. Perhaps years from now, when we ask "Remember the Titans"? and someone answers, "You mean that cornball movie with Denzel Washington?" we'll be able to say, "No, the 2008 Tennessee Titans. That was one heckuva football team -- with a real feel-good story."