To say the Tennessee Titans weren't exactly the talk of the NFL during the regular season would be a tremendous understatement.
It took until the final week of the regular season before the Titans knew for sure that they had made the playoffs. Even then, it didn't seem like there were very many people nationally picking Tennessee to make any real noise.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Titans had the seemingly daunting task of going into New England to face the champion Patriots. While it was clear that New England didn't have the fire power they had in the past on offense, the Patriots still had Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and one of the very best defenses in the entire National Football League.
In an eye-opening performance, Tennessee went into New England and came out with a win. On Saturday, in the second round of the playoffs, the Titans went on the road again, this time stunning the Baltimore Ravens in their own building. The Ravens had the favorite for MVP in Lamar Jackson, were coming off of a bye week, and were the pick of many to get to the Super Bowl out of the AFC.
However, I have seen a lot of people locally complaining about folks jumping on the Titans' bandwagon. For reference, the phrase "jumping on the bandwagon" usually comes with a negative connotation, referring to people becoming fans after a team starts winning. In this particular case, I say to Titans fans who are just now jumping on board: come one, come all!
Here's the reality that Titans fans should consider. The Titans are still a relatively new team in comparison with the rest of the league, and, yes, I realize that the Oilers were around for a long time before the transition. Unless you were born in the mid-1990s or later, there's a good chance that if you're a football fan you had a team you rooted for before the Oilers became the Titans. Maybe it was a team that was geographically convenient (the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, etc.), or maybe it was another team. Realistically if you've been following the NFL for longer than 25 years or so and you root for the Titans, there's a pretty decent chance that you switched allegiances at some point after the Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans. While that's not the case for every fan, it is the case for many.
How does that relate to current 'bandwagon' fans?
If teams never embraced new fans that started following when times were good, it would be hard for fan bases to grow. While the Houston Oilers had been a well-established franchise, the move to Tennessee allowed their following to rapidly multiply within the state. Widely followed teams like the Dallas Cowboys or the Green Bay Packers might not need to market to new fans as much, but the Titans and their fans should embrace any and all new fans --even if they are 'hopping on the bandwagon' strictly because of their recent postseason success.
What does it really hurt? More fans eventually equates to more tickets sold and more merchandise purchased. Why wouldn't you want your team to have more of its fans cheering on your team, creating a bigger home field advantage at Nissan Stadium? Wouldn't you want your franchise bringing in more money so that they could provide a better fan experience and ultimately continue to grow their brand?
I'm not here to tell anyone how to be a fan, but I think it's worth noting that an influx of new fans (no matter how new they may be) can only be a good thing for any franchise that wants to grow and improve.