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How Football Became So Ingrained in the Culture of Tennessee

Derrick Henry Titans Fantasy Studs
Titans running back Derrick Henry has turned into the best running back in the NFL. The culture in Tennessee has changed since he was drafted.


The Tennessee Titans compete in the National Football League as a member of the American Football Conference South division. They were previously known as the Houston Oilers, having been established in August 1959. Bud Adams owned the team until he died in 2013 and under the Oilers name, they won the first two AFL Championships.

The team relocated from Houston to Tennessee in 1997 and now play in the Nissan Stadium, Nashville. Only once in the history of the team have the Tennessee Titans appeared in the Super Bowl, which they did back in 1999, losing to the St. Louis Rams. 

However, football remains ingrained in the culture of Tennessee for many reasons, one of which is the college football team, the Tennessee Volunteers. They Vols have many traditions, including running through the “T”. This tradition has been in place since 1965 under the head coach Doug Dickey and holds a special place in the hearts of Vols fans. To see the players running out in the shape of a “T” signals the beginning of a new game. Whatever happened in the previous game has been forgotten and the passion of the fans is stirred the moment the team enters the field. As the “T” opens up on the field, it is a hugely special moment for the Vols fans and one which adds to the fascination of the team.

In comparison to the Titans, the Vols have a long history and have been playing football since 1891. At the time of writing, they are ranked 12th in the all time win/loss list and play at the Neyland Stadium. Fans now have the opportunity to back their team using TN sports betting apps. Sports betting has been legal in Tennessee since 2019 and players can now place a wager anywhere within the state’s borders.

The Vols have come a long way since the 1920’s, a time when football teams from the South were often seen as being inferior. The University of Tennessee football team played a significant role in changing the negative image of football teams in the South and the weeks surrounding the Volunteers’ game against the University of Alabama on October 21, 1939was hugely important. The game was broadcast to a national audience on radio networks and that was a first in the history of football in the South. 

Tennessee football was represented in a Broadway play and even featured on Bing Crosby’s national radio show. Tennessee won the game and were voted into first place of the Associated Press poll, which was another first for football in the South. The game against the University of Alabama and the positive attention it brought to football in the South helped promote the inclusion of the South in mainstream culture.

While the Tennessee Titans are the region’s representative in the NFL, the Tennessee Volunteers, and their famous orange and white colors, have had a huge role to play. Their history is one of the main reasons why football has become so ingrained in the culture of Tennessee.

NFL Draft Diamonds was created to assist the underdogs playing the sport. We call them diamonds in the rough. My name is Damond Talbot, I have worked extremely hard to help hundreds of small school players over the past several years, and will continue my mission. We have several contributors on this site, and if they contribute their name and contact will be in the piece above. You can email me at nfldraftdiamonds@gmail.com

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