A couple of weeks ago, Logan Ryan, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, jumped into the stands in Cleveland to celebrate with a player who had just scored a touchdown. One of the fans on the front row threw a beer at him and said a few things and in the end, that player got banned from the Browns’ stadium indefinitely.
Logan Ryan came out that next day and was upset, obviously, at the beer getting thrown at him but the other part of his beef, caught me by surprise. He commented that fans do not have the right to say things to him just because he is a football player. Yes, there are some things fans should not say and oftentimes, do, because they are idiots.
I am assuming Ryan played football in high school because I am not sure what he has heard in the NFL could be any worse.
I recently had to go to Dickson County to do a story on a young man who plays football there and has committed to play at Kentucky. While I was there, I drove by the football stadium and a flood of emotions came back that I had not thought about in over 30 years.
It was a hot August day when I took that pic but what happened on that field, on a chilly October night, in front of about 10K people is something I will never forget.
McGavock was ranked in the top 10 in the state and so was Dickson County and it was, if I recall, the only match-up in the state that Friday night that featured two ranked teams in class 3A.
We had been warned before we got there that the Dickson County crowd likes to get a little rowdy and say a few things. The team kinda laughed it off because we were more worried about the football game, than the crowd.
And they were ready for this big bad school from the big city. We pulled in and immediately, we got the one finger salute from the tailgaters, we laughed and it was a good 2 hours before the game.
The game itself was amazing. Late 4th quarter, we are down by 3 points but Dickson is driving to put it it away and I was able to bust through the line, hit the quarterback as he was handing the ball off, it bounced once and we picked it up and ran back 90 yards to take the lead. Unfortunately, Dickson County came right back down and scored with :15 seconds to go to win the game.
We were just stunned. We had this game and let it slip away which is a blueprint the Titans have now.
You would expect that after a tough loss on the road, the home crowd would be elated and we could get on the bus with no problem. Wrong.
“Go home, you pieces of ####.”
“#### y’all, get out of here.”
“Sorry ### ###### ######S” (You can guess what that is.)
We had players taking off after people and coaches chasing them. Chaos everywhere and the swear words were flying like X-wing fighters defending the Rebel base. Then, I made eye contact with this one guy, about 25. I had just turned 16. “You wanna fight me, boy?!” I paused, then said, “What?” “You heard me, you wanna fight me, boy?!”
I just laughed, as did others who were around me, and I remember my mom walking up at the same time and then cooler heads prevailed. I talked to her at the bus and we also just laughed. “Did you hear what that one man said to us?” She said, “I heard that and then some.” At this point, I was just giddy. Pretty sure no one on our team had heard that kind of language before and we were all excited because we were soaking all of it in. To put it this way, Redd Foxx would have been embarrassed at some of the things being yelled at us.
All of it. The cussing. The screaming. The yelling. I am not sure in my life did my teammates and I feel as powerful as we did in that moment. Funny, cause at no time did we fear for our lives or felt we were in danger. It was all very surreal.
So when I hear a pro athlete get upset over a fan yelling at him, I always think back to that chilly night in Dickson, Tennessee when my vocabulary gained a dozen new words and a night that we would never forget.