Pro Football Hall of Fame Game Brings Varied Emotions


It’s that time again, and behold, I will be having a regular column in the sports section of the Daily News Journal that will be running every Wednesday, so all you pro football fans out there (specifically if you have a Tennessee Titans bias) get ready to ride!

Here is the original link.

Titans and Bills HOF Game. Courtesy of Donn Jones

Hargrove: Hall of Fame Game brings varied emotions

BY ANNABELLA HARGROVE • SPECIAL TO THE DNJ • August 12, 2009

For the Titans, Sunday night’s Hall of Fame Game began with a tinge of somber nostalgia. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AFL, the Titans were decked out in their powder blue, white, and red Oilers throwback jerseys.

Their helmets told another story, providing a glimpse into both the recent and not so recent past. Each side of the helmet revealed the old familiar oil tower, a symbol of the franchise’s past. Take a closer look, however, and you’ll find a symbol that evokes a well of swirling emotions.

Floating right above the neckline on the left backside of the helmet is a sticker bearing the No. 9, the number of former Titans franchise quarterback Steve McNair, who met his cruel and untimely death at the hands of girlfriend Sahel Kazemi just a little over one month ago.

The game itself aroused a separate set of emotions, chock full of trickery, excitement, and hope. Playing in the Hall of Fame Game for just the third time in franchise history, the Titans seemed to pick up exactly where they left off at the end of last season, where their road to the Super Bowl was cut short in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Baltimore Ravens.

Quarterback Kerry Collins looked spectacular in the only two series he played, going 7-for-10 for 82 yards and creating two touchdown drives. These results are not surprising to those of us who have followed Collins’ career throughout the years. Collins has led the teams he’s played for to the playoffs four times, was at the helm of the 2000 Giants team that went to the Super Bowl, and is the second-leading active passer among quarterbacks in the NFL.

Speaking of quarterbacks, all eyes were, as expected, on fourth-year quarterback Vince Young, who didn’t make a very convincing case for himself in his first few series, throwing an interception on his first drive and going only 1-for-5 for 13 yards before finding his niche late in the second quarter when he scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass to third-year receiver Paul Williams.

In all fairness, though, it is only the first preseason game, and Young has quite a bit of rust to shake off, in both a physical and mental sense. Quite possibly unfortunate, this season is most likely the make or break season for VY.

Other bright spots were the defense, as always, even without big No. 92 Albert Haynesworth plugging up the hole. Keep an eye out for No. 91, Jason Jones, and No. 96, Kevin Vickerson to step up into dominant roles on the Titans‘ explosive defensive front.

As for the rookies, well, the jury is still out on first overall pick Kenny Britt, a hamstring injury the culprit behind his sitting out the start of the preseason- but not all is lost. Rookie tight end Jared Cook was more than impressive and was described by NFL analyst and announcer Cris Collinsworth as the second-fastest receiver behind Nate Washington.

Playing the part of many an NFL competitor, I’m going to make a guarantee. I guarantee that the Titans are once again playoff bound, poised and ready to fit the team’s fingers with a prize that has eluded this franchise for decades — a Super Bowl ring.

Freelance writer and sports enthusiast Annabella Hargrove resides in Murfreesboro. Among projects, she is currently working on a memoir.

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