Taylor Swift fans probably deserve some credit for Titans' viral NFL schedule video

Taylor Swift performs during "The Eras Tour" on Friday, May 5, 2023, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Taylor Swift performs at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on May 5. Did the large number of Taylor Swift fans roaming the streets of Nashville this week help the Titans create viral video gold? (George Walker IV / Associated Press)

Santa Fe Bolts?

New York Rangers?

Nope, it’s the Los Angeles Chargers.

Those were two of the wrong guesses — Bolts and Rangers — that wound up on the cutting-room floor in the hilarious person-on-the-street video the Tennessee Titans created for their schedule release.

Three members of the club’s creative team spent a total of eight hours on Broadway, Nashville’s main street, and asked people — those clearly unfamiliar with the NFL — to identify the various logos of the teams that will play the Titans next season. (Someone guessed the Chargers’ bolt stood for “Lightning McQueen.”)

Whereas virtually every NFL franchise produced some sort of slick video to roll out its slate of games, the Titans stole the show with their rough-hewn clips shot with a smartphone and a lapel microphone. Actually, Tennessee made one of those highly produced videos too, but wanted more of a Gen-Z offering for various social media platforms.

As of Saturday afternoon, the viral street video had 9.3 million views on Twitter, 4.8 million on TikTok, 1.4 million on Instagram and 436,000 on Facebook.

“Not to brag,” said Gil Beverly, chief marketing and strategy officer for the Titans, “but we kind of created a moment.”

Beverly credited a trio of twentysomethings in the front office — Emily Starkey, Katie Moseley and Jeanette Morley — for coming up with the idea and shooting the video. Nate Bain, who came from the Rams, is the team’s director of social media.

Starkey, Moseley and Morley spent eight hours over two days talking to people around the time Taylor Swift was in town for a concert. Apparently, the Venn diagram of NFL fans and Swifties has some areas that don’t overlap.

Among the more amusing guesses, the Atlanta Falcons were the “Red Stallions,” Cincinnati Bengals were the “Boston Bobcats,” the New Orleans Saints were the “St. Louis Rams,” and a group of young women confidently proclaimed the Indianapolis Colts horseshoe stood for … the Dallas Cowboys.

What made the video hilarious was after each blind stab, the Titans would announce the actual game — over the soundtrack of the triumphant trill of the Fox NFL theme song — using the goofy guess.

So the Nov. 2 game against Pittsburgh was announced as a matchup with the “49ers 69ers Stars,” the Nov. 12 game versus Tampa Bay is against the “Pirates from the Islands of the Caribbean.” The division-rival Jacksonville Jaguars are either “Chester Cheeto” or “Actually Does Not Exist,” and the Seattle Seahawks are the “Eagles Eagles Eagles from Pittsburgh.”

One young man described the Cleveland Browns as “Just the Football Logo,” although a guess that didn’t make the cut was the “Ohio Eights.”

At the end, of course, all the fans could identify the Tennessee Titans.

After the video was released, some of the teams involved played along. The Falcons even changed their social media handle to the Red Stallions, and the Colts briefly changed their name on Twitter to “not the Cowboys.”

“I saw a local T-shirt company that’s already making a T-shirt with all the fake names,” Beverly said. “It’s a 15-minutes-of-fame kind of thing, and this one seems to have a little bit of legs to it, and we’re going to enjoy it while it lasts.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.