It’s been a very interesting 48 hours here at WNST.net in a lot of ways. First, we’re preparing to take the largest contingent of travelling fans we’ve had in years into one of my favorite cities, Nashville. We expect to have a blast with three completely sold out buses! And Steve McNair has told the Nashville media that he will indeed host the WNST Purple Pep Rally in downtown Nashville Friday night at Limelight.
We didn’t spend a lot of time talking about it on WNST earlier Thursday — we’ve got a football game to play on Saturday that’s more important than anything else — but it was apparently a TOTAL MESS in Nashville, especially being oversensationalized by the local media and the internet has exploded with all sorts of stories, tales and fiction.
My side of the story hasn’t changed. WNST was going to Nashville and was going to throw a party or two for the Baltimore fans. Like we’ve always done. Like we’ve done in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Indianapolis and even Miami last weekend. We found Graham Central Station for Saturday’s event. They usually don’t open and/or don’t have heavy traffic on Titans gamedays. They do extremely well and are packed with more than 1,500 people on Saturday night. He needed the business. We needed a good, big room and commerce was created. All of the Ravens fans are going to go out and drink and have fun in Nashville. Why not do it all together? Hundreds of people send me emails during weeks like these asking “Hey, Nasty, where’s the party?” so I do my best to throw the best one I can. The radio station and website benefit. My employees benefit. We work extremely hard. The fans benefit. And we have a good time.
And most of the time, when it makes sense, a charity is involved and we share some of the profits for a good cause. Would the people of Nashville prefer that we just stock the bus full of beer and NOT spend money in their city? We’re coming. And we’re leaving money behind to stimulate the economy. And except for a few jerks — and yes, our fan base has been known to produce a few — we are pretty harmless and do nothing but have a good time.
In the case of Limelight and the party that McNair is getting so much heat about, the owner there called ME and said “I heard you’re looking to throw a party on Friday night.” I said we’d love to do a “welcoming party” for all the Ravens fans. He knew Steve McNair. He had already committed to trying to do something for charity to encourage Ravens fans to come to his club, which apparently is pretty spectacular according to my boy Mike P. (Baltimore native, Vandy intern at WNST last summer and rock star hip hop empresario in Nashville). We also made a deal to throw a party. He had already told the Ronald McDonald House folks he’d pitch in for them here in Baltimore.
Of course, this sounded perfect until the word got out in Nashville that McNair was considering having anything to do with the Ray Lewis or the color purple. Fans in Nashville are plenty pissed. And, sure, I get it. If Ray Lewis rolls off to Nashville for two seasons and comes back here hosting a blue love affair, I’m sure some here would be bent out of shape. But I also remember when No. 52 brought Chad Johnson, Jerome Bettis and other “bad guys” into Baltimore for a bowling tournament for charity year after year and people shake their hands and get autographs.
But it’s an event that will donate money for charity. McNair told the Nashville media earlier tonight that he’s coming and it has nothing to do with the nasty, classless way he was treated on his way out of Nashville by the Bud Adams or his “support” of the Ravens. It’s simply a nice way to meet some Ravens fans who supported him during his two way up-and-way down years here and to raise some money to help some folks in Nashville. Truth be told, no one’s getting rich from this. There are no “high roller” types buying “memorabilia” in a big auction. Or pricey junkets or golf packages. It’s a bunch of fans drinking $2.50 domestics, listening to music and having the time of their lives after getting on a bus for 11 hours or driving 11 hours or having the dough and the ability to fly in for a weekend of fun with their passion: the Ravens. Steve McNair is also part of the Ravens family. He was 13-3 two years ago. He gave us some good times. He gave us some bad times (that game in Pittsburgh last year that I watched on my laptop in Tokyo was a living nightmare). It’s more of a friendly gesture by McNair, who is a class act, than anything and a chance to celebrate football, the NFL and have some fun.
Anyone who knows me knows this: I just want to have some fun. We’re donating a portion of the door charge admission to these fine charities. We’re going to have some fun. And raise a little dough for McNair and Ronald McDonald.
Those who choose to write or say mean-spirited things only show their nature. We’re going to the South. We expect the usual amazing hospitality in one of the classiest cities we visit (and believe me, we wouldn’t say that about Cleveland and won’t be saying that about Pittsburgh next week).
We hope that if you’re in Nashville you consider coming by the party and having a pop and celebrating Festivus with us. I’m going to write a much longer, expressive blog later in the day regarding my incredible love affair with Nashville and Barry Trotz and the Predators and Jim Schwartz and the Opryland Hotel and the Houston Oilers and everything short of country music. (Although I’ve always wanted to go the Ryman Auditorium more than the Grand Ole Opry!) That’s the only thing I don’t do in Nashville, but I must admit that it has its appeal and Graceland is just on the other side of the state and I’m a big Elvis guy.
Incidentally, it’s only one of two big charity events WNST has on the same night in two different states with Drew Forrester staying back in Baltimore to host the big community celebration over at Maryvale with our part-owner Brian Billick and Oriole great (and great community guy) Ken Singleton. If you’re looking for something fun, worthwhile and cool to do in Baltimore tonight, throw Drew an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d love to sell you a ticket for that charity event.