Tennessee Titans, Cumulus Nashville Agree To Multi-Year Extension With 104.5 The Zone

The Tennessee Titans and Cumulus Nashville have entered into a multi-year partnership extension, designating 104.5 The Zone/WGFX-FM as the continuing official radio broadcasting home of the Tennessee Titans and Titans Radio. The agreement extends broadcasting rights to 104.5 The Zone for game day play-by-play with Mike Keith and color analyst Dave “Coach Mac” McGinnis, including pre and post-game programming through the 2025 NFL Season.

“The Tennessee Titans and 104.5 The Zone have had a long-standing partnership and we are excited to continue with a brand that shares our vision for the Titans,” says Gil Beverly, SVP/Chief Marketing & Revenue Officer, Tennessee Titans. “The Zone has established itself as preeminent Middle Tennessee sports leader and the Titans Radio Network will continue to create an incredible offering for passionate fans across the state.”

In addition to Game-Day coverage, 104.5 The Zone will air weekly shows throughout the season that give Titans fans access to top players and coaches via exclusive interviews on The Mike Vrabel Show, Titans TonightMAC TALK and weekly Players Shows featuring current Titans players.

“As the predominant sports voice in Middle Tennessee, we’re proud to extend our partnership with the Tennessee Titans,” says Allison Warren, VP and Market Manager, Cumulus Nashville. “We are committed to bringing 104.5 The Zone listeners and Titans fans the compelling sports content they seek.”

Titans Radio strongholds Keith and McGinnis will also be entering their fifth season together on Titans Radio. The combination of Keith, a Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer, and McGinnis, a former NFL head coach, provide Titans fans with high voltage excitement, information, and insight.

“The Tennessee Titans and 104.5 The Zone are among the best marriages in the NFL, and we are excited to continue as the flagship station for Titans Radio,” says Paul Mason, Operations Manager/Program Director, 104.5 The Zone/WGFX-FM and Titans Radio Network. “I am thrilled that our listeners will hear Mike Keith, Coach Dave McGinnis, Rhett Bryan, and Amie Wells on The Zone and on Titans Radio for years to come.”

Titans Sign Veteran Edge Rusher John Simon

Photo: By Alison P. McNabb/Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans have signed eight-year veteran edge rusher John Simon. Simon has spent time with the Patriots, Colts, Texans and Ravens throughout his NFL career.

A fourth-round pick of the Ravens in the 2013 NFL Draft, Simon spent the past three seasons with the Patriots where he played in 47 games, with 30 starts, from 2018-2020. Simon, who won the Super Bowl in 2018, recorded 46 tackles and two sacks for the Patriots in 2020 where he played in 16 games, with two starts. Simon played 702 of a possible 1,017 defensive snaps (69%) for the Patriots last season. In the last three years with the Patriots, he tallied 30 starts, eight sacks, and nine tackles for a loss.

In his NFL career, Simon has played in 97 career games, with 52 starts. He’s recorded 277 career tackles, and 21 career sacks, 25 tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles, along with 11 passes defensed and two interceptions.

To make this move to pick up Simon, the Titans waived outside linebacker Tuzar Skipper. Tennessee practice in training camp for the first time on Wednesday, July 28.

NFL Announces New Covid-19 Policy, Games Unable To Be Rescheduled Will Be Forfeited

The NFL has made its policy in a memo sent out to all 32 teams stating that any teams that have a Covid-19 outbreak among unvaccinated players will have to forfeit games that cannot be rescheduled, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports.

Unlike last season, no games will be rescheduled for the end of the season. Along with this new strict policy, players on both teams will not be paid for the lost contest. The team responsible for the cancelled game due to unvaccinated players will also have to cover financial losses and be subject to potential discipline from the Commissioner’s office.

This upcoming season will be played in 18 weeks instead of the original 17-week season. The league insisted it will not mandate vaccinations, however the NFL’s restrictions in place for non-vaccinated players and potential penalties to teams are as strict as ever. Vaccinated players or staff who test positive and are asymptomatic can return to duty after two negative tests 24 hours apart, according to the memo put out this week. For non-vaccinated persons who test positive, the 2020 protocols remain in place, requiring a 10-day isolation.

“If a game is cancelled/postponed because a club cannot play due to a Covid spike among or resulting from its non-vaccinated players/staff, then the burden of the cancellation or delay will fall on the club experiencing the Covid infection,” the memo states. “We will seek to minimize the burden on the opposing club or clubs. If a club cannot play due to a Covid spike in vaccinated individuals, we will attempt to minimize the competitive and economic burden on both participating teams.”

Below is the opening statement of the NFL’s memo:

“This will summarize key operating principles relating to addressing the continuing Covid-19 threat for the 2021 season. We will review these principles and related matters on the 32-club call this evening. These principles are based on last season’s experience and follow discussions that we have had with a number of league committees, medical experts, outside advisors, and many of you. As we learned last year, we can play a full season if we maintain a firm commitment to adhering to our health and safety protocols and to making needed adjustments in response to changing conditions.

“These operating principles are designed to allow us to play a full season in a safe and responsible way and address possible competitive or financial issues fairly. While there is no question that health conditions have improved from last year, we cannot be complacent or simply assume that we will be able to play without interruption – either due to Covid outbreaks among our clubs or outbreaks that occur within the larger community. These principles are intended to help inform decisions, recognizing that, as in 2020, we will need to remain flexible and adapt to possibly changing conditions.”

Eddie George Prepares To Lead TSU Football As First-Year Head Coach

Eddie George. Photo: Courtesy of Tennessee State University Athletics

Being a first year head coach is tough for anyone at any level, but being one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL and a Tennessee Titans legend can add some extra stress. Eddie George is entering his first year as skipper of the Tennessee State University football team but in Monday’s Ohio Valley Conference Football Media Day on July 19, he seemed as cool and confident as ever.

“I’m looking forward to compete against these great universities, these wonderful coaches, and really to inspire and mentor these great young men,” George said. “We’re just really excited about this first year.”

George, a graduate of Ohio State University and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, had no intentions of becoming a coach. He wanted to spend time with his family, work on his acting career, and focus on his other independent ventures. Yet he decided to take the job after much consideration and realizing just how much he could get out of it–working with young men, helping them both on the field and in the classroom.

“I never thought that I would enjoy [coaching] as much as I have,” he said. “From being a player and looking at every level, I saw the grind and the stress involved in coaching and wanted no part in that. Now that I’ve done my due diligence, some soul searching, and since I’m in the business, it’s been really rewarding. This has been a tough season for me personally, losing both my parents in a span of two months. I realized I needed this opportunity more than it needed me.”

The upcoming 2021-2022 season will look a bit different from past seasons, as the OVC and many conferences underwent a spring season in early 2021 and will now have to play a normal fall season. This unprecedented schedule pushes up and rearranges the normal workouts and training that college football players are used to. Because of this, George and his new staff have had to get players ready and healthy in a shorter amount of time, in addition to getting accustomed to their first year of coaching.

“There are four different phases to a season. There’s the actual season, winter conditioning, the spring season, and then summer conditioning. This year has been interesting because between the spring and summer there was maybe a month where these kids had a chance to recover, get their bodies right, and really get ready for the rigors of the season,” George explains. “We had to keep that in mind as a staff to not put too much on them too early on.”

The Tigers struggled last season, going 2-5 snd winning their sole two games against Eastern Illinois and UT Martin. In this year’s OVC Preseason Football Poll, TSU was picked to finish fifth in the conference behind UT Martin, SEMO, Austin Peay, and the expected winner, Murray State. Among the Tigers roster were eight players who were named to the All-OVC Preseason Football Team, the most only behind Murray State who had 10. This list includes OVC Freshman of the Year Devon Starling.

“I feel it’s exciting [to play for George] because I get to pick his brain and learn from him. I know he can help my game go to another level,” said Starling. “All I ever wanted was an opportunity to get better and become the best I can be as a player and a person. I feel like Coach George coming here has become a great role model.”

Starling, who led all freshmen nationally in rushing, finished the season with 648 yards on 124 carries and three touchdowns. The Antioch, Tenn. native averaged 5.2 yards per carry, 92.6 yards per game, and ranked 16th nationally. Last season, he recorded three 100-yard games with a season-best 149 yards at Murray State, one week before running for 134 yards against UT Martin.

“As soon as we came in, we introduced ourselves and had a long conversation about what he expected from me and what I expected from him,” Starling shared. “One thing about him is he asked me what I needed from him. It wasn’t just him asking what he needed from me, so I could tell he cared about more than just the football aspect.”

As a Hall of Fame running back himself, George plans to build his team around Starling and the offensive line. With a great running game, it can take pressure off of the quarterback and allow him to succeed while forcing the defense to stop both the run and passing game.

“It’s important for us to establish a culture. I believe in winning and establishing a team from the inside out,” George said. “I believe by having a strong and powerful running attack, it allows us to become more efficient.

George will be taking the field as head coach of the Tigers on Sept. 5 as the team takes on Kentucky State for their first home game at none other than Nissan Stadium, the arena that the former Titan accomplished so much in. While George’s journey to this head coaching position was not a quick and easy one, it was one that he never imagined he’d love so much.

“It’s been fulfilling and fascinating.” George explains, “Every morning when I wake up, I have the opportunity to be a difference maker. It’s not about me anymore, it’s about serving these young men.”

Titans Announce 2021 Training Camp Schedule

Photo: By Danny Parker/Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans have their training schedule set for 2021 which includes 14 practices at Saint Thomas Sports Park and a joint practice in Tampa, Florida with the reigning Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The first practice is set for July 28.

Due to construction at Saint Thomas Sports Park, no practices will be open to the public. The Titans had plans to hold a public practice at Nissan Stadium but due to the Garth Brooks concert in late July, the IndyCar Grand Prix the first week of August, and Nashville SC games in mid-August, those plans have been cancelled. The Titans do plan on having some live look-in’s during training camp hosted by Mike Keith and Amie Wells to give fans some exclusive access.

Tennessee kick-off the preseason in Atlanta on Aug. 13 to play the Falcons. The team will travel to take part in joint practices in Tampa with the Buccaneers during the week leading up to a preseason game on Aug. 21. The Titans will wrap up the preseason with a game at Nissan Stadium against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 28. Fans can get a full look at the Titans training camp schedule on the teams website.

The Titans regular season opener is set for Sunday, Sept. 12 against the Arizona Cardinals at Nissan Stadium.

Titans Add Bum Phillips, Jeff Fisher, Floyd Reese To Ring Of Honor

The Tennessee Titans are adding former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips, former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, and former general manager Floyd Reese to its Ring of Honor. They will be honored along with 14 other legends this fall at Nissan Stadium.

The origins of the Ring of Honor started with a team Hall of Fame induction in 1999, the first year played at Nissan Stadium, when seven initial members had their names displayed inside the seating bowl. Over the years, the organization added to the list of legends, with K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr., Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Robert Brazile, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, Mike Holovak, Ken Houston, Bruce Matthews, Steve McNair, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak, Jim Norton, and Frank Wycheck all being recognized.

“I am so excited to recognize these important figures in our team’s history,” says controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. “Each had a significant hand in the success of their eras.”

Phillips coached the Houston Oilers for six seasons between 1975-1980. Known for his powerful personality and sporting a cowboy hat on the sideline, Phillips owns the best winning percentage (.608) by a Titans/Oilers head coach who has coached at least two full seasons, totaling a 59-38 mark. He led the Oilers to back-to-back AFC Chmapionship appearances in 1978 and 1979.

In 16 full seasons at the helm, Fisher only had four losing records. He’s the only head coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, a mark he reached three times (1999, 2000, 2008). Fisher is also the winningest coach in franchise history with 147 wins from 1994-2010, and guided the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season. Under Fisher, George became the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and in 2000 the team’s defense ranked first in yards allowed for the only time since 1970.

“Oftentimes, for whatever reason, long careers run their course and come to an end, and [as] you enter a different stage of life, you have plenty of time to reflect on what was accomplished personally and professionally and so on and so forth,” says Fisher. “Certainly, over the last couple of years I’ve had that opportunity… The whole Titans family has remained very, very close to us. Our affection for the organization has never wavered. To be in a position where I took a call from Amy and shared the conversation with her regarding the organization’s intention to put me into the Ring of Honor was just extraordinary.”

Reese was general manager during the most successful period in Titans history and spent 21 years with the Oilers/Titans organization as a coach, executive, and GM. Under his watch from 1994-2006, he tallied 111 wins with the Titans advancing to two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He is also responsible for acquiring McNair, George, Wycheck, Jevon Kearse, Derrick Mason, Keith Bulluck, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Kevin Mawae, Craig Hentrich, Albert Haynesworth and Vince Young. That grouping of players would collect 27 Pro Bowl honors, three Rookies of the Year, and one AP Co-MVP for the club.

Phillips will be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 26 during a game against the Colts which will serve as the highlight to an Oilers Homecoming week. Fisher and Reese will be honored together at another game that is yet to be determined.

Titans, USA Football Award Riddell Equipment Grants To Local Youth Programs

Photo: By Alison P. McNabb/Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans and USA Football have recently awarded youth football programs in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama with Riddell Equipment grants.

Within those three states, thirty-five youth and high school football organizations received funding from this year’s grant cycle, totaling $26,500. Grants from Riddell are valued up to $1,000 apiece and were awarded based on need, merit, and an organization’s commitment to coaching education and best practices.

In total, $650,000 in Riddell grants were awarded to roughly 850 organizations across 49 states. The equipment grants from Riddell are one part of USA Football’s Grant Program, a comprehensive solution to help youth leagues and scholastic programs improve the quality of their athletes’ experiences while reducing program costs.

Since 2006, USA Football’s Grant Program has awarded more than $15 million in grants to youth and school-based football programs, which has directly benefitted more than 500,000 youth and high school players across 9,500 programs in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

USA Football designs and delivers premier educational, developmental, and competitive programs to advance and grow the sport. As the sport’s national governing body, member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and organizer of the U.S. National Team for international competition, USA Football partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy, and athletics to support positive football experiences for youth, high school, and other amateur players.

MTSU Football To Welcome Full Capacity Crowds For 2021 Season

The MTSU Athletic Department have announced that Floyd Stadium will be open at full capacity this fall for the Blue Raiders 2021 season. The traditional tailgating will return as well as popular fan-friendly amenities inside the 30,788-seat stadium, such as The Family Fun Zone and The Beer Garden. Masks will not be required for entrance to the stadium.

“We are excited to have our great fans back in Floyd Stadium,” says Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. “Fans will be able to enjoy all of the game day traditions that go with football season. I’m looking forward to seeing fans tailgating in Walnut Grove, the Band of Blue, the children enjoying Family Fun Zone, patrons experiencing the Beer Garden once again, and the excitement of FBS/C-USA football right here in Murfreesboro.”

Last season, the school limited attendance to 10%–about 7,000 fans per game–due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision to welcome all fans back at full capacity was made in consultation with local and university health officials. The decision also includes full capacity at Dean Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium for the soccer season, as well as the Alumni Memorial Gym for volleyball season.

MTSU opens the season Sept. 4 against Monmouth where the program will celebrate Community Day. The Blue Raiders will then hit the road for the next three games until the return to Murfreesboro on Oct. 2 when they play Marshall University. The Blue Raiders will have their homecoming on Oct. 30 when they take on the University of Southern Mississippi.