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CNN Today

Rams, Titans Fand Gear Up for Big Game

Aired January 28, 2000 - 2:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Unless you've been under a rock, or a foot of snow -- that's probably more accurate -- you know what happens this Sunday here in Atlanta. Super Bowl XXXIV will crown pro football's new champ. Brutal cold has moved daily practice sessions for the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans indoors. Who? you ask, Rams and Titans? neither exactly a household name in these things. The Gallup people even took a poll that proved it.

Joining us from Princeton, New Jersey, Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport.

Frank, you guys don't miss a thing in the polling world.

FRANK NEWPORT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, GALLUP POLL: Oh, no. We're out there polling America about the Super Bowl. We had a Gallup poll quiz. I'll give you the answers to it right now.

Our first question was of Americans Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, do you happen to know, anybody, either of the two teams that's going to be in the Super Bowl? Actually they didn't do so bad. This is the response over here. Sixty percent of Americans were able to name the Titans or Rams, a little down from 1998. That was a high- profile game with the Packers and the Denver Broncos. That was about two-thirds at that point. But 60 percent not bad.

Now I have to say this. Men more likely than women to know what's going on in the Super Bowl, not a great shock. Seventy-three percent of men were able to name at least one of the teams. And for women, it broke even, just a little under half. So obviously a little less interest on the female side of the house in terms of the Super Bowl.

Now who do Americans think should win and who will win? Well, it's split right down the middle on the left here. Who do you favor in the game? Americans break even. In the South Overall it's the Titans, in the Midwest it's the Rams. But overall, it breaks even. In terms of Las Vegas oddsmakers, America steps into that role and they say that the Rams will win by about 45 percent. So Americans tilt toward the Rams.

Finally, one more quiz, kind of a no-name game in terms of very, very high-profile players, so we asked Americans can you name any player that's going to be in the Super Bowl. And 72 percent couldn't come up with a single name so far, but St. Louis' Kurt Warner kind of the come-from-behind story, the great story there, 14 percent, the quarterback for the Titans, McNair, and then George and Faulk, the two running backs, next. So some people were mentioned, but 75 percent of Americans may be enjoying the game, but right now at least they weren't able to come up with the names of the players.

Americans favor the Rams. We'll see what happens in Atlanta on Sunday.

Back to you.

ALLEN: All right, 72 percent couldn't name one player.

ANDRIA HALL, CNN ANCHOR: Pretty high. I'm one of the 72 percent.

ALLEN: I knew McNair, that's it. Needless to say, player name recognition is not a problem in St. Louis or Nashville.

HALL: That's right. Fans in both of those cities aren't just knowledgeable about their teams, they are downright bonkers over them.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is in downtown Nashville with proof, right, Gary?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Andria and Natalie. The forecast this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee is for lots of snow and ice, but Tennesseans are ready for their day in the sun this Sunday, as their Titans have made it to the Super Bowl. We are right now inside a store in downtown Nashville. It's called Tennessee Sports Fan, and one guess what team's merchandise is moving very quickly right now. That's right, the Titans. There are folks in line ready to buy some goods.

What are you getting, can I ask you? I bet you're getting something from the Titans, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am. T-shirts and sweatshirts and...

TUCHMAN: And pom-poms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and pom-poms, yes.

TUCHMAN: Are you going to wave those while you watch it on TV?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sure am.

TUCHMAN: OK, think they're going to win?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, of course.

TUCHMAN: This is the assistant manager, Sean. Let me pull you out here Sean so everyone can see you for a little while.

How's business?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doing great, real good. TUCHMAN: Customers excited?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, 100 percent.

TUCHMAN: Sean thanks for talking with us.

One thing a lot of people here in Tennessee are hearing a lot of is the Titans fight song that's making it on the radio. It's on this CD from the Pier (ph) music label. The song is called "T for Titans," and we're lucky enough right now to have the two singers with us live here in person, Tommy Connors (ph) and Kirk Boyer (ph).

Guys, hit it.

TOMMY CONNORS AND KIRK BOYER, SINGERS (singing): T for Titans, T for Tennessee. T for Titans. T for Tennessee. T for Titans, the Titans are a team of destiny.

Anything can happen, when McNair has got the ball. It is like a freight train crashing through a human wall. Here in Music City, we know it ain't know miracle at all.

T for Titans, T for Tennessee. T for Titans, T for Tennessee. T for Titans, the Titans are a team of destiny. T for Titans, the Titans are a team of destiny.

TUCHMAN: Tommy and Kirk, thank you very much. You guys are ready for the Grand Ole Opry here in Nashville. And I'll tell you, if the Titans play as well as these guys swing, they will win the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Andria and Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: Well, they probably win in the music category, I'm sure. No one can beat Nashville.

HALL: Yes, they were pretty good. They were pretty good, though.

ALLEN: They were.

HALL: And not to be outdone, many folks in St. Louis feel their Rams are the class of the NFL.

ALLEN: Which takes some getting used to after all those years of cheering for the Cardinals, the football team that used to play there.

CNN's Jeff Flock joins us from the "Gateway to the West," where fans haven't been this excited since Mark McGuire was chasing Roger Maris -- Jeff.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, guys, you know I can't -- I don't have people singing, unfortunately, but I do have a team with me that has not lost a football game in 50 years. They are the 19 -- the Billikens (ph), the St. Louis University Billikens of the 1940s. And they were a great team in their day. They're now part of a group that they call the Dinosaurs.

I guess you guys call yourselves the Dinosaurs because you're a dying breed in some ways. And we brought them together today to talk about football then and now. And before we start our talk, I just want to show you what the 1947 Billikens looked like, a lot of strapping young men there who are now sitting before us today. And I guess the first thing I want to do is ask you about how big the Rams are. You remember the Cardinals and you remember your Billikens team back then. How big are the Rams?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very big, very big.

FLOCK: How do you account for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're winning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exciting team, exciting team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tremendous.

FLOCK: Those are the magic words.

DAN DEMMAS, FORMER ST. LOUIS BILLIKEN: I'll also say to Jeff that the crowds are unbelievable. You can't believe how enthused they are. It's deafening at the stadium for every ballgame.

FLOCK: How does this compare with the football that you played and what you remember in the 1940s? How is it different?

BABE PAPPAS, FORMER ST. LOUIS BILLIKEN: Much faster game, much faster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bigger and faster, more exciting.

PAPPAS: Much stronger, more complicated.

DEMMAS: We had a 14,000-seat stadium, and I guess there'd be about seven or eight average, would you say that? Except for a couple of games a year...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the year we'd get a full house.

DEMMAS: ... when we played Washington University it would be packed. That's a local school.

FLOCK: Dan Demmas, we have a picture of what you looked like back in the 1940s. The thing is, players, how big were you back then? And what was your position?

DEMMAS: I played quarterback my first year. I was 175. And I played guard the other three years. I was 180, 183.

FLOCK: Players very different these days?

DEMMAS: Oh my god, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very much.

DEMMAS: Today, like it was said, bigger, faster. And it's altogether different.

FLOCK: Now the other thing about the St. Louis University team that most people don't know is that back in the year 1906 -- and we've got a picture that kind of depicts that 1906 team -- the first forward past in football history thrown here on the campus of St. Louis University -- that's here in St. Louis -- by members of that team. How is it that that came to happen? How did the forward pass get invented in St. Louis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress passed a rule indicating to cut down some of the violence in football. They -- authorizing and legalizing a forward pass. That's how it came about. And they took advantage of it, and they were undefeated that year.

FLOCK: So then your coach was the first one to put it in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FLOCK: How much passing did you guys do back in the 1940s?

DEMMAS: Not much. It was a running game.

FLOCK: Bob Mosher, I know we've got a picture somewhere over there of you, as well. You brought along with you, though, some things that -- could you show us -- is that your old jersey on the floor down there?

BOB MOSHER, FORMER ST. LOUIS BILLIKEN: I think the equipment changed. You're comparing the modern things with the games we played. The equipment -- this is the jersey that we wore in those days. It's made of a heavy cotton, long sleeves, and it was secured by a flap, which after you were dressed had to be buttoned up to the front. And when it got wet or muddy, it was really heavy.

FLOCK: But that one survived.

MOSHER: That one survived.

FLOCK: What about the shoes? You've got shoes there.

MOSHER: I think the shoes are also various changes. These are the shoes that were actually worn, high-tops laced up.

FLOCK: See what the bottoms...

MOSHER: On the bottoms were cleats, and the size of the cleat was dependent upon the condition of the weather. Dry conditions, this type of cleat was worn. If you had muddy or snowy, then a longer cleat was immediately placed on them and we ran in those. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not immediately.

MOSHER: Not immediately. As fast as Joe could get them on.

FLOCK: Now, Joe, I know you were equipment manager -- correct? -- for those teams.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FLOCK: Now show me that helmet on the floor there. Now that's a little bit before your guys time. But is it amazing to you to see what guys play in now and what you guys played in back then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unbelievable -- microphones in there telling them what to do.

FLOCK: What would they have heard in microphones in your day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't even have a microphone.

MOSHER: A lot of yelling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a lot of yelling and screaming. Substitutes going in and out all the time with plays.

FLOCK: Football has changed tremendously. Do you guys still love the support.

DEMMAS: Oh my god, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.

PAPPAS: Yes.

FLOCK: Why? Babe, tell me why.

PAPPAS: Well, it's part of our heritage, I guess. We played football -- we played it because we loved the game. We had a good time, and there wasn't a lot of pressure on us in those days like it is now. The kids in college, they have a lot of pressure on them. I mean, they train harder. We went out and had a good time.

When we played, we were loaded with veterans from the Second World War coming back, and everybody was just kind of -- we were foot loose and fancy free. We had a good coach. He was a real gentleman. He'd encourage us, but we stayed with the game. We follow it now. It's different.

DEMMAS: One of the things, Babe, we still have is the fellowship that we all developed. We see each other regularly. We all stay close to home and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a reunion once a year.

DEMMAS: ... and the Jesuits were just terrific to us. FLOCK: You know, before we get away, I do want to ask your advice. Give us your advice for your new guys, your Rams. Any advice? Anybody got a bit of advice for them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep Mike Marks (ph), keep the offensive coordinator, Vermeil, the new coaches. They've got a terrific thing going, and we're going to take care of the Titans. I guarantee you that.

PAPPAS: Keep a spy on the quarterback so he can't run -- McNair.

FLOCK: You heard it here. Good advice from men who have not lost a game in half a century.

That is the latest from St. Louis . Some interesting insight from some guys who've been playing football for I guess their whole lives.

That's the latest from here, Andria, back to you.

HALL: Thanks a lot.

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