Thursday, August 14, 2008
Updated: August 27, 9:36 PM ET
Stories from the stands: AFC South
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Combining his love for the Texans and Elvis Presley, George Lazaneo has been wearing his "Texan Elvis" suit since Houston's first game at Reliant Stadium in September 2002.
Lazaneo, 38, a director of business development from Houston, started cheering for Space City's previous franchise, the Oilers, when he was 3 and cried often at the hands of the Steelers.
He remembers his mother playing Elvis songs to comfort the losses.
When Houston was given an expansion team after the Oilers split for Tennessee, Lazaneo became a season-ticket holder
and soon was thinking what would go well with blue-suede shoes.
"Well since my Mother and I were big Elvis fans, and whenever I hear an Elvis song it still reminds me of my football youth, my alter ego Texan Elvis was born," Lazaneo said.
He won an ultimate-fan contest in the Houston area in 2002 and a trip to the Super Bowl. After that initial success he decided to step up his game.
"Thousands of dollars and rhinestones later, I am confident that no other rival Elvis wanna-be fan can compete with my 'bling,'" Lazaneo said.
"I think suffering through the 100-degree weather during tailgating, and the games, is my way of proving my commitment to the Texans."
A Super Bowl championship logo would complete the outfit, thank you, thank you very much.
|It's not time to split until George Lazaneo has left the building.|
Most Colts fans know 53-year-old Michael Hopson simply as the "Super-Fan."
That's because for the last 19 years he has appeared everywhere from training camp to pregame tailgate parties as his alter ego, dressed in inflatable shoulder pads -- complete with Colts stickers, logos and spray paint -- and matching cape and flag.
Hopson, a night-stock clerk at a retail chain, decided the pads would make for a great getup. Now he wears the ensemble everywhere, from charity events to Colts autograph sessions.
Though he's not a season-ticket holder, he manages to make it into most home tilts, sometimes picking up tickets through local contests. When he gets lucky, the outfit earns him free ducats from fellow fans.
"I'll start walking away from the stadium and someone will say, 'Where are you going? Here, you're going to the game,'" Hopson said.
He said he recently attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, dressed as Super-Fan.
Not surprisingly, Hopson drives a van that is a patchwork of horseshoes, with a horse on a hood and Colts stuff all over it.
"You can see me coming," he said with a chuckle.
A native of Tennessee who grew up a Bears fans because of family roots in Chicago, Hopson switched allegiance to the Horseshoes shortly after moving to Indy some 20 years back.
"They're a positive team that represents more than football because of all they do in the community," Hopson said.
It's a favor he's happy to return, including making appearances as Super-Fan at schools and Boys & Girls Clubs.
"I'll do this forever," Hopson said. "When I'm too old you can roll me around in a chair, but I'll still be true blue."
|"You can see me coming," says Michael Hopson. Don't we know it.|
Anna Katherine Clemmons
and Brett Pauly
Folks at her place of work know Julie Tucker as the mellow country-club concierge who makes her home in Yulee, Fla. But when Sunday arrives, her alter ego emerges; grrrrrr, she becomes "Jaguar Julie" from Yulee.
You can't miss her at Jaguars home games.
For one thing, she's only missed one game since the expansion franchise began operations in Jacksonville in 1995, and that was due to monsoon-like weather.
For another, she's the one wearing the Jags jersey with Jaguar Julie emblazoned on the back. (She also has a jersey with Team Mom on it, just to change things up every once in a while.)
So fanatical is Tucker that she has even looked into officially changing her name to Jaguar Julie. Seriously.
"I love the Jaguars because of their spirit, their enthusiasm, their dedication to the game and their community spirit, as well," said Tucker, who is 50. "They really give back to the community."
She is an active member of the Jaguars Booster Club and has volunteered for the past seven years selling tickets for the team.
She goes to as many away games as possible, including as far away as Nashville.
But she'd really like to make an away trip to Tampa this winter
"I agree with Freddy Taylor; I want a Super Bowl ring, too," Tucker said, echoing the outspoken desires of the Jags veteran running back.
|Julie Tucker with her son, Jesse, and Mark Brunell.|
The moment the Titans unveiled their new logo to go with their new name back in 1999, Tom Ballman had a mission.
"I saw those flames on the logo," Ballman said, "and I knew I had to have a fire truck."
The freight-services account executive met his destiny while on a business trip to Clarksville, Tenn., soon thereafter.
"I saw an old fire truck on a used car lot," said Ballman, 54, of Gallatin, Tenn. "It had flames on the windshield and a sign that said, 'Come on in, hot deals.'"
Ever since that fateful day, the 1967 GMC Pumper has been the base for tailgate parties hosted by Ballman and his friends before every Titans home game.
Ballman -- a fixture at LP Field with his old-time leather helmet and brew in hand, and otherwise known simply as "Beerman" -- even drove the fire truck in the Titans' parade following their tough loss in Super Bowl XXXIV.
It's been a decade since the franchise relocated to Nashville and he's attended every home game.
Like the Titans' logo, Ballman's on fire.
|Tom Ballman is clearly all fired up about his Titans.|
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