Column: How The Julio Jones Trade Represents The State Of Sports In Nashville

Titans helmet and footballs during the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns at Nissan Stadium on DECEMBER 06, 2020 in Nashville, TN. Photo By Alison P. McNabb/Tennessee Titans

After months of speculation on where he might land, seven-time Pro-Bowler Julio Jones has become a Tennessee Titan, wearing No. 2 in navy and silver. The 2021 Titans are now set up to have Jones, Derrick Henry, and A.J. Brown as offensive weapons for quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Jones is widely considered the best receiver currently in the game and statistics show that, in fact, he is. The future Hall of Famer has 12,896 receiving yards and 60 touchdowns in his 10-year career on 848 catches. He’s caught over 100 passes in three of his seasons, and he had at least 80 catches and 1,300 yards in every year from 2014-19 with an average of 104 receptions for 1,565 yards during that time period.

For those passionate Titans fans who remember, just six seasons ago this franchise went 3-13 and was at the bottom of the NFL. Yet so much has changed in those years both for the Titans and for the Nashville sports scene as a whole.

Over the past three years, the Titans have become one of the most exciting teams to watch as Henry has become the best running back in the league, winning the rushing title in 2019 and 2020 as well as Offensive Player of the Year 2020. On the same coin, the city also welcomed Tannehill as quarterback. Coming in from Miami in 2019 with little to no success and a season-long injury in 2017, he led the team to the 2019 AFC Championship and won Comeback Player of the Year.

Tannehill’s arrival coincides with Mike Vrabel‘s hire as head coach which has resulted in two playoff appearances in his first three seasons as the team’s skipper. Vrabel has built the team into one that people want to talk about instead of the one where people ask: “Do the Titans play in Nashville or Memphis?”

Since Vrabel and Tannehill have joined the team, Nashville has seen a boom in extra sports exposure and expansion. The city has seen a new MLS team and new stadium, the biggest NFL Draft in history, Nascar’s return, and IndyCar arriving. Not to mention that Music City is on the short-list for MLB expansion.

However, the growth in Nashville sports doesn’t stop there. The Predators have become one of best teams in the NHL, and Bridgestone Arena is arguably the most difficult hockey arena to play in since their Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2017. Every year the team is always considered a top contender, and the team proved this season that, even after a slow start, they have enough grit and leadership to fight for the postseason.

The Nashville Soccer Club kicked off their inaugural season in 2020 by fighting their way to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Now the team is soon set to open their brand new stadium at the Nashville Fair Grounds and is rapidly growing its fan base.

Top tier motorsports are also making their return to the city with Nascar racing over a nearly sold out Father’s Day Weekend at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon. This will mark the first time a Cup Series race has taken place in Nashville in 37 years. In August, Nashville will host the inaugural IndyCar Big Machine Music City Grand Prix with a street-course being built downtown and around Nissan Stadium.

In just a few years we have seen all of this expansion, but Nashville is no stranger to absurd growth as population has increased 12.84% in the past 10 years.

The signing of Julio Jones is the perfect example of how Nashville and its sport scene has grown into a market that strives to compete, win, and attract other people who want the same. With this most recent trade, Jones brings with him a hype and talent to an already experienced and talented Titans team.

As the roster stands right now, the 2021 Tennessee Titans look like a team that is ready to win it all.

Steven Boero