The joys of Nashville and a playoff weekend

January 09, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

So this morning I’m pretty freaking excited. I’m packing my bags on a journey that might be one of those trips I remember for the rest of my life. A true playoff vibe, in a cool city that I always love to visit, Nashville – what’s not to love? If you’re not excited about the Ravens now then what are you waiting for? This is what it’s all about. One hundred and twenty minutes from the Super Bowl. A win brings either a trip to San Diego – America’s greatest city – or Pittsburgh, where the passion and tension of Ravens vs. Steelers for all the marbles would be a meeting of the century for any Baltimorean.

But as Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers once said, “There ain’t no tomorrow baby, there’s just right now!” And now is Nashville, home of beautiful Southern women, country music and a great hospitable environment for football.

I don’t like country music at all but there’s always been something intriguing about Nashville. I’ve had girlfriends in Nashville. I’ve done business in Nashville. And most significantly, I have many of my best friends in town, which is how I found Limelight and Graham Central Station (our party headquarters tonight and tomorrow) in the first place. I come in for Predators games all the time. Barry Trotz is one of my best friends in sports. And Jim Schwartz is someone who I’ve had many, many good times with as well. Schwartz has been calling into WNST every Friday faithfully for eight years. These are some of my favorite people in the world.

It’s another long weekend with the Ravens on the road, trying to do some good street wnsTV reporting, legitimate reporting and hang and mingle with fans and meet cool people who like the Ravens as much as I do and are crazy enough to take bad flights, long car rides, stay in cheap hotels, bad cabs, good restaurants and perhaps to even partake the in adult nightlife of The South, but more than anything else to have a little fun when all else in life sucks (as it has for most people over the last eight months).

Oh, and we’re gonna throw a little party tonight and again tomorrow and paint the town purple!

The Ravens have breathed life into our community this week and the community is rallying as only Baltimore can. Well, truly, as any good sports town with a passion can. I’m currently sitting on a plane full of Ravens fans, who are all anticipating one of the great weekends of their young lives in Nashville.

We got the buses off at 6 a.m. – and it was a complete sellout. We had 2 empty seats on three buses of 164 people and at one point we thought we were gonna have to strap people to the roof. (Feel free to fill in your joke here about me flying…but at some point we’re gonna have as many as 1,000 people showing up for a 7 p.m. tonight and someone should probably be at the WNST party to greet them. I’m expecting the buses to arrive in Nashville around 5 p.m. so it was kinda close if I didn’t fly. I actually LIKE long bus rides…I get a lot of work done on those! But tonight’s party was too significant and too big of an undertaking to not arrive early.)

Lots of people are asking me about Nashville and “what to do.” Obviously, I’m partial to the two parties we’re throwing but we’re also slated to hit the Predators-Blackhawks game tomorrow night downtown after the Ravens game. Drew Forrester wants to drink a beer with Barry Trotz so I arranged that. Like me, I think Drew really enjoys chatting with coaches.

I’ve been inundated with calls from Nashville media over the past 36 hours because of the McNair fiasco and they’ve all gone on the offensive with me, which kinda cracks me up because I’m probably the biggest Predators fan on the planet outside of Nashville. Hell, I’m probably the ONLY fan of the Predators outside of Nashville! I’ve recounted the story before, but I’ve known David Poile and Barry Trotz since I was a cub reporter for The Evening Sun in the late 1980’s. They are great men and they have built an amazing franchise in Nashville against all odds. Trotz is the ONLY COACH IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE. Poile holds the same designation as the general manager. And they’ve always been competitive and have overachieved regularly. “I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. Don’t know what it is ‘bout the Predators scoring…”

And Trotz is an amazing man for many reasons — just one of the good dudes walking the planet.

As for Schwartz, my affection and love/hate with Schwartzie goes back to his days as a Ravens’ assistant to Marvin Lewis when I didn’t even know who he was and he was always omnipresent as a faithful WNST listener. If you knew Jim Schwartz you would’ve hired him instead of John Harbaugh as the Ravens coach. No one would’ve appreciated him more than you because he’s one of us. He’s a TRUE DIEHARD Baltimore sports fan, a guy who grew up loving the Orioles, Colts and Terps. And this crazy rivalry that has been berthed during his time in Tennessee must be a tad bit bittersweet even though he never admits it. I said it last year and I’ll say it again: If I owned the Ravens and was in the market for a coach after Brian Billick, I would’ve hired Jim Schwartz because he feels about Baltimore the way that Bill Cowher did about Pittsburgh because he was “one of the people.” And he’s a helluva coach and someone in the NFL will give him a head coaches job in the near future. Hopefully, it’ll be next week!

Almost enough babbling about Schwartz, but needless to say, he’s my guy 364 days of the year, but tomorrow he knows that I’m “all in” to see the Titans take a royal asskicking. And when the game is over – win or lose – I’ll see him on the field and wish him luck. (And no doubt, if the Titans win he’ll pick me up at the airport in Nashville at some point in the spring and lock me in his office and torture me with the game film the way he did in 2003. He also gave me a tour of their facility, which included an entire Hall of Fame worthy retrospective of the history of the Houston Oilers, who were my first love as a child.)

I love Nashville. I love seeing football in Nashville. I have amazing memories of fun times, strip clubs, country juke joints, great meals, great dates, great concerts and amazing hockey games in Nashville. And I’m hoping everyone who goes south to follow the Ravens – and I’m currently on an aircraft with 137 of them – has an awesome experience and great time on Broadway. As for tips? Well, I’d tell you about my favorite pancake place but I’d never get a seat on Sunday morning so I’ll keep that one to myself.

The videos and stories will be coming soon. Nashville and beautiful memories await…

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