Famous prep coach serves as Titans' honorary captain

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR CORRESPONDENT
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   NASHVILLE- The movie 'Remember The Titans' has captivated many hearts across the world, and Saturday at The Coliseum in Nashville the real coach Herman Boone was honored as an honorary captain for the Tennessee Titans in their contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
   "It was real big," said Jevon Kearse after the game. "Last night in our team meeting, (Coach Jeff) Fisher showed us some of the clips from 'Remember the Titans' and then he introduced him. I was like 'Oh yeah, good things are going to happen tomorrow.'
   "He was here for us the whole time on the sidelines, but actually he pepped us up last night and gave us a real nice pep talk. He told us about the 'do's and don'ts' of football -- really just about football and life. We just took it for what it was worth."
   Boone coached the 1971 T.C. Williams Titans that were depicted in the Disney film, in which Boone was portrayed by Denzel Washington.
   "What a game," Boone said afterwards. "It was a real enjoyable experience being able to come down here and meet with the team and go out as a captain."
   Boone won eight state titles over his career, six coming from E.J. Hayes High School in North Carolina, where he posted a 99-8 record before taking the T.C. Williams job in Alexandra, Va.
   The Titans team broke racial barriers in Alexandria, and eventually became the number two team in the nation with its 13-0 record.
   Boone met with the Tennessee Titans the night before at their team meeting and gave them a pep speech.
   "I gave them a little pep talk, I don't know how much good it did," Boone joked. "They played a good game."
   Boone wore a black cowboy hat during the contest and signed it afterwards for Jevon Kearse.
   He received a very warm and deserving ovation throughout the game as they aired clips of the film.
   COMPLAINTS RATTLED OVER OFFICIATING
   Complaints were still flying high Sunday morning after Saturday's Titans-Steelers match-up, with the majority coming against the game's officiating -- particularly the sentiments after the call of running into the kicker that gave Tennessee that extra kick they took to win in overtime.
  
Said Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher: "If a game is to be decided because a kicker takes two steps, and we have a guy slide into him after going for four and a half quarters with guys laying it on the line and it goes down to that. Let the players play it on the field."
   "You get breaks here and there. We got a break," said Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher. "He got roughed and we got another chance.
  
"It is the defensive player's responsibility to avoid running into the kicker under all circumstances. If he's blocked into him, it would not be a foul."
   "As soon as I hit the ball, I knew I was in trouble," said Titans kicker Joe Nedney. "Then somebody hit me on my ankle and spun me around."
   "I wasn't sure what happened other than I missed the kick and I figured Pittsburgh would try to drive the ball and the defense would have to stop them," he said. "Then the running into the kicker penalty was called and I got another shot at the field goal."
   "Yeah, he really did deserve an Oscar," Jevon Kearse said of Nedney's acting job on the penalty. "It was really about time the referees gave us some kinda call out of all of those. I guess it was just meant for us."
   The Pittsburgh masses claimed that they tried to call a time-out before the next winning kick cleared the uprights.
   "I wasn't aware that they were," said referee Ron Blum. "But one of my co-officials said that the request came after the ball was snapped.
  
"I didn't see it. I didn't get to greet Bill after the game," Fisher said. "That is probably what he was upset at. I didn't see it. If you want to call time-out, you have a whole bunch of time to call time-out. You don't have to wait to the last second to call time-out and ice the kicker."
  
Cowher was noticeably frustrated as well about the reviewable call on Derrick Mason's punt return for a score that was eventually called back.
  
"He told me it wasn't a reviewable call," said Cowher. "The one thing at least he did do was call up to the booth to find out if it was a reviewable call. Thank goodness somebody in the stadium knew the rules."
   "It's hard to believe that guys can play a game that hard and it comes down to an official's call," said Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox. "It's unfortunate. My credit goes out to the Titans. They did the things that they had to do to win the game. This one will be hard to swallow."
   Said Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair: "Before I went out there and we got the toss (in overtime), Nedney told me, 'Hey look, just get me down there and we'll win this thing.' All we wanted was to get into field goal range and give him an opportunity, and we did."
   "It just kept going back and forth like someone was pushing rewind or something," said Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, "That last kick went good. Joe's a great kicker, I couldn't have made it, but I'm glad he did."
   WYCHECK HAS CAREER GAME
   Frank Wycheck had a career outing for the Titans on Saturday during the game.
   His 10 receptions for 123 yards were both career highs, as he led the team in receiving.
   "I'm never a stat guy. I just want to get involved, contribute and move the chains because that's my job," Wycheck said. "They kept me one on one a lot with the linebacker and I was able to take advantage."
   BIG GAME FOR MCNAIR
   McNair certain turned in a performance to remember, passing for 338 yards and two touchdowns and running for a touchdown. His two scoring throws were timely. They came in the third quarter, after the Steelers had taken a 20-14 lead.