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Know the Foe: "The Black Hole" Awaits Titans

Posted Nov 21, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The reputation precedes the experience for most Titans players, but those who have and those who haven’t played in “The Black Hole” said they are looking forward to Sunday’s game at Oakland’s O.co Coliseum.

Bernard Pollard, who is 4-0 with former teams on trips to “The Black Hole” joked that he carries flashlights with him into the abyss of fans with painted faces, masks, spikes on shoulder pads and other intimidating clothing and props.

“It’s a great place. The atmosphere is just crazy,” Pollard said. “That’s what they’ve been doing for a very long time. That’s what Mr. (Al) Davis built and what he thrived on. For us, we have to stay composed and know who we’re going against, knowing the situation, knowing what’s at stake.”

Tennessee (4-6) is visiting Oakland (4-6) for the first time since December 2004, which predates the longest-tenured Titans (Michael Roos, David Stewart and Rob Bironas joined the team in 2005).

Nate Washington, who made one previous trip with the Steelers in 2006, recalled a “very hostile” environment.

“I don’t think a lot of these guys have played there, even the veterans, but I’ve played there,” Washington said. “That is definitely, you always talk about the opponents’ crowd and how it can be a factor in your games, I think that might be one of the only stadiums where their crowd might come on the field and fight you.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been to games in Oakland but hasn’t played in one. That will change when Fitzpatrick makes his fourth start as a Titan.

“It’s a great place to play. You know the fans are going to show up and be nasty every game you play there,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s definitely an opportunity and challenge we’re looking forward to. It’s one of those things where it’s a special thing to go to a game there and get heckled and hear some of those things.”

Jason McCourty said he had heard stories of fans throwing batteries at opposing players but was excited about an intense atmosphere.

Southern California natives Akeem Ayers and Jurrell Casey said playing in Oakland will allow family members to make road trips to the game. Ayers advised his family members not to wear Titans clothing, but Casey said his family plans on wearing “Titans blue all the way.”

“Just growing up in California, you hear about the Raiders, see ‘The Black Hole,’ the fans with masks and faces painted, they’re going to be into it,” Ayers said. “I’ve been looking forward to playing in Oakland since I’ve been in the league. It looks like a fun place to play.”

The winner will do itself a favor by staying in the hunt for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC playoffs, which is not lost on any Titans player.

“The crowd is going to be into it and boo you, throw things at you, do whatever they can to get under your skin, and you’ve got to tune them out and stay focused on the game,” Casey said. “You can’t worry about what’s going on in the crowd. My family is going to be there, so I’ve got to make sure I stay focused on the game. They’re big and can handle themselves. They ain’t scared of nothing, so they’re going to be out there showing their support and we’re going to be good to go.”

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