Tennessee native Lance Smith makes his living counting down country music videos on the "CMT Top 20 Countdown," which airs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. Much of the rest of his time is devoted to obsessing about the Tennessee Titans. His analysis of the Titans' most recent crop of draft picks was mercifully deleted from this interview.
Did you ever play?
No, that's the thing about moving so much. Every time we got to a new school I was too timid to try out. Plus, I was the little guy -- when you see a class with a small kid and think, 'He's too little to be here,' that was me. I mean, I'm average-sized now, but I was small then. I do listen to my dad's stories -- he was the starting quarterback all four years in high school. He's from this town called Columbia, and his picture's still up on the wall of some restaurant there. It's hilarious. My dad was the big fish.
That didn't put any pressure on you to live up to that?
Oh, no, no, no. I did play soccer for a while in high school because I was good on defense, but there was never any pressure. We always just enjoyed the sport between us. I'm sure he would have loved if I played, but my dad was never like, 'You're going to play, you're going to live my dream out.' He was never that guy.
Is it tough to get through the winter and spring when you live in a town that only has one pro sport?
Yeah, it really is. For baseball, down here everybody's all about Atlanta, but I'm just not a baseball fan. I'll go to a game and enjoy myself, but I'm not a fan. So yeah, it's tough, it's hard here, but thank God for the NFL Network. I get into Australian Rules Football, all that weird stuff. I don't know the rules, but anything that resembles the sport. It's a sickness, it really is.
What's a bigger party, a Titans tailgate, a NASCAR tailgate or a Kenny Chesney tailgate?
You know, that's a great question. Chesney tailgating is up there, but it's not as fanatical. It's a bunch of teenage girls giggling about how they're going to see Kenny at the meet-and-greet. NASCAR, that lasts a week. They get there Wednesday or Thursday, and they don't leave until Monday morning. They've usually got more than one race; they've got Busch Series, then Nextel Cup. It's an endurance test for tailgating. Football fans pack it in, they're there at 7 a.m. I've seen people go to church out there; they go to church at 7 a.m., and then they break out the turkey legs. So I've gotta give it to Titans fans. Football fans, period. They do it right. I mean, I've been so worn out from tailgating, I've had nothing left for the game. That's how you know you've done it right.
Looking forward to the season, huh?
Oh, I can't wait. I'm online every day. Our punter, Craig Hentrich, just had an emergency appendectomy, and you want to send a get-well card, like a member of your family. Honestly, it's like my cousin or brother got sick, I want to go visit the guy. It's like a religion. Right now, everybody's going to the Super Bowl. Right now, the Titans are up, 30-0, in the Super Bowl in my book.
-- Dan Steinberg