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NASHILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans will add three popular names to the new Ring of Honor at LP Field tonight at halftime -- Steve McNair, Eddie George and Frank Wycheck.
They played a collective 28 seasons for the Oilers-Titans franchise. I was in position to cover 26 of those and think all three are more than deserving of the honor. (The usual Wycheck disclaimer: I work with him on morning radio in Nashville.)
Still, when I think back to the two teams they were on that helped the franchise grab hold of this city, I think of the 1999 and 2000 versions. Those teams were 13th and 14th in total offense. One could argue that the 10th- and third-ranked defenses did more to give those teams their identities, and their success.
This afternoon at a Monday Night Football Chalk Talk luncheon, I asked those three guys who they'd like to see join them in the ring to represent the other side of the ball.
Four names surfaced: Safeties Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson, defensive end Jevon Kearse and cornerback Samari Rolle.
Bishop was the heart and soul of the Oilers-Titans defense. He left after 2001 and wasn't on the greatest terms with Jeff Fisher at the end because he was injured and spoke out about some questionable moves in a down year. He seems on good terms again now, and does some post-game radio in Nashville.
Robertson left after 2000, but came back to work in player development and is now an assistant secondary coach.
Kearse was a dynamic player in his first go-round, but departed after 2003. He returned as a free agent this year, and has been a steady but unspectacular player so far in his second tour.
Rolle has been a member of the Baltimore Ravens since 2005.
I wouldn't want to be a decision-maker in this matter. Things are far less clear on defense than they were on offense, where Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews is already part of the ring. But I do think ultimately a couple defenders of that era should join the three-pack that will be honored at halftime tonight.
"Once Jevon got here, that's when we were able to really excel as a team, and they knew what kind of offense we had," George said. "They kept us in games a lot. We were a slow methodical bunch that wasn't going to score a lot of touchdowns. They knew they had to play great defense for us, they're the ones that were the driving force behind us winning 13 ballgames. We scored enough points to help them out."
"You've got a lot of guys, especially Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson, who were along for the Oilers-slash-Titans days," McNair said. "I think those are a couple guys that contributed tremendously to this organization when they were playing. It's me Eddie and Frank's time. But there are plenty more years to come and I think those guys will be nominated and be on it in the future."
Wycheck has a tendency to want to over-honor -- I've joked with him on the morning airways in Nashville that he wants to refurbish Halls of Fame into Halls of Very Good. Once he started listing names he had trouble stopping, and he was only half-joking when he said, "I'd put that whole 1999 team up there."