Stadium Series: What Sundays look like fans of AFC South teams
A look into what makes the fan bases of the AFC South unique
This season the AFC South is one of the closest division races through six weeks. Within the division, the Texans and Colts in the division are starting to break away from the more struggling Titans and Jaguars, but it is still anybody's game.
The teams in the AFC South are alike in that they have not experienced Super Bowl success in the last decade, but each brings unique traditions to the table. From the Jaguars' fans blue hair and pools inside the stadium to the Colts immediately recognizable home, each fan experience is unique to their city.
As part of our Stadium Series, here is a look at what game days look like for fans of teams in the AFC South.
Walking up to Lucas Oil Stadium you notice how unique it is. The spacial industrial design embodies the city of Indianapolis and the structure is immediately recognizable. The Peyton Manning statue welcomes in fans as a reminder of one of the greatest eras in franchise history.
The "Colts Disciples" and the "West St. Tailgate" are two of the biggest spots to celebrate at the game, but you will find a welcoming group no matter where you go. Colts fans are always happy to welcome the visitors to their city. Brats, jalapeño peppers and Indiana corn are often spotted being served and the Colts fans say midwest wings hold their own.
Fans play corn hole to pass the time between eating, tossing a football at the Manning statue and getting hyped up to cheer on their team.
Colts fans have a 1-0 mentality and while they are sometimes mocked for celebrating the small stuff, remember that "2014 AFC Finalist" banner, they are proud of what their team does and would not change a thing. They refer to the team as "we" and consider them to be like family.
Inside the stadium
Every game starts with someone pounding the Anvil as a tradition before the action. They have a special guest do the honors every week for the past few years.
While Colts fans can admit they may be more of a tamer crowd than some of the other fan bases, that does not make them any less loyal or committed to their team. They have an "Us vs. The World" mentality and say despite not getting the positive national attention they feel they deserve, they have high standards and expect success from their squad.
This year, after Andrew Luck surprisingly retired during the preseason, fans were stunned and the fanbase was split on what the team should do. Some thought they should just call this season a loss and hope for a good draft pick next year and others wanted to make a run for it with backup-turned-first-stringer Jacoby Brissett.
The Texans are the newest franchise in the NFL, and while Houston was stripped of the Oilers in 1996, the people of the city are just happy to have a team again. Texans love their football and the crowd at NRG Stadium is no different.
Many fans not only serve up Texas barbecue at the tailgates ahead of the games, they serve food geared towards the team they are playing. If the New Orleans Saints are in town for example, you will see gumbo, Cajun fries and seafood at many tailgate spots.
The city has been through a lot over the years and came together getting stronger as a result. The players and the city have such a strong connection and that only increased after the team rallied to help the city after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Inside the stadium
The stadium is one of the loudest you'll find in the league and the dome only adds to that when the roof is closed.
Texans fans head into NRG Stadium early to try and play catch with star J.J. Watt, and you will see people wearing his jersey around every corner.
Just because they are a new team, does not mean they are without traditions. Battle Red Day is held every year where the team wears their red alternate jerseys and the majority of fans show up in red themselves.
The north end zone seats are home to the "Bull Pen", an organized group of super fans. They are a group that has helped create some of the unique traditions the Texans have today.
As the players get introduced by the announcer, the crowd chants the player's last name after the first name is announced over the speaker. When the opposing team scores many people will turn their backs, and when the Texans score there is a cannon that fires off in celebration.
People do not always think of Jacksonville at first when they hear "sports city," but their fans know just how how great it really is.
The stadium is close to the St. John's River that runs through the city so some people opt to arrive in style and take their boat to get to the game.
It is not news that the team has not been the most successful in over the better part of the last decade, but the Jaguars fans will show up and enjoy the game no matter what. Warm weather, a pretty solid chance of 1 p.m. Sunday games and the environment make games the perfect combination of a social event and football. Because why not have both?
Everywhere you turn you will hear "DUUUVAL" with fans yelling it to each other or just yelling it just to yell. The team's saying comes from the name of the county that Jacksonville is in and has become a way for Jaguars fans to communicate with each other and show their team spirit.
As of a few years ago fans can rent "party shacks" which are located right outside the parking lot to up their tailgating game.
Fans go all out, some even dying their hair teal or with Jaguars spots. The die-hard fans are still around no matter what, and there are a lot of die-hard fans.
This season, pulling up to TIAA Bank Stadium you will see a lot of people with mustaches and Gardner Minshew jerseys after their backup quarterback turned starter has become a breakout star. Even the babies have mustache binkies. Be prepared to see everyone from toddlers to adults dressed up as the team's QB this Halloween. "Minshew Mania" is a very real thing.
Inside the stadium
The stadium is truly like none other and is geared towards the fan experience. Want to sit on a spa cabana or a pool while you watch the team? They can give you that. The true Florida experience. They also have on-field seating that fans get to by going under the stadium and out onto the field, which you won't find at many other places.
If you dare, you can order one of the teal hamburger buns offered inside the stadium. Teal is a very big deal over there.
The scoreboard in the stadium is so big you can see it from the bridges that go downtown. Their mascot, Jaxon Deville scales down the stadium ahead of the games, just in case the fans needed any more entertainment.
You probably won't find someone who is a Jags fan "just because"; the fandom is something that connects the people to their city and is a family tradition for so many. As one fan put it, "It's not easy to be a Jags fan, so you really have to want to be."
On Mondays, the players continue their connection with the fans with a meet and greet for the people of the city.
The Tennessee Titans are a team from another city, and Nashville has embraced them as their own and have been cheering them on for the past two decades.
Located in downtown Nashville, Nissan Stadium offers a unique city experience. The convenient location allows fans to enjoy the city's music scene, great food and football all in one area. Tailgating can be done at the bars because of how close the stadium is to everything.
Heading into the game you walk over the pedestrian bridge in a sea of blue and get a beautiful view of the stadium.
Nashville is a stereotypically relaxed city and the fans take pride in being one of the friendliest towards opposing fan bases.
Most games are at 12 p.m. so many fans enjoy a breakfast or brunch style tailgate. Sausage balls with white gravy, chicken biscuits, fried chicken and hot chicken are on many of the menus at pregame parties.
Inside the stadium
Fans show up with flaming hair wigs and dressed literally from head to toe in Titans gear.
"Titan Up" is something fans say when they end a sentence, a conversation or just to get their team rallied. What began as a 4th quarter rally cry is now a mantra for the team.
Walking around the stadium you are gifted with the beautiful view of the city. The moment you walk into the stadium it has a unique feel.
The open feel of the first level as you enter provides a great area to hang out before the game or at halftime and grab bite to eat. The many Jack Daniels advertisements reminds you that you're in Tennessee, just in case you forgot.
Often a country music star is present at the game to sing the National Anthem, since it is country music city after all. The music does not stop there. There is a Titan Up drum line that plays at the games and once a year the Tennessee State University band comes to perform at halftime, putting on an incredibly impressive show.
The team runs out onto the field with fog and flames to welcome them to the stadium and that spectacle makes it impossible for fans not to get excited about the game,.
After a first down the fans yell out a loud, "Awhoo, Awhoo" to celebrate.
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