NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Golden Tate is a perfectionist on the football field. The Lions receiver wants to run precise routes, and catch every ball thrown his way.
But there's one thing Tate could never get just right while growing up a Titans fan in the Nashville area.
"I'd be bored in class sometimes when I was young,'' Tate recalled on Wednesday, "and I'd sit in class and draw the (Titans) emblem on the helmet. I never could get it perfect, though. I would always be off a slight angle."
Tate, who played high school football at Pope John Paul II in Hendersonville, said he loved the Titans growing up.
"I had so many (favorite players),'' Tate said. "I used to love Bruce Matthews, Frank Wycheck, Air McNair, Eddie George, Kevin Dyson … Keith Bulluck was a obviously a big-time player. Those are a list of the big-time players I was a fan of.
"I went to a couple of games. To this day I still talk about the Music City Miracle here and there, and my experiences. … When I was growing up (Nissan Stadium) was Adelphia Coliseum, LP Field. Being a fan, I always loved the colors. I loved the Titans, just not this week."
Yes, things are different for Tate this week as he prepares to face his hometown team. Tate, in his seventh NFL season, has even made some ground rules for family and friends scheduled to be at Ford Field on Sunday when the Titans visit.
His parents are making the trip, along with his brother. Auction winners from JPII are scheduled to make the trip, along with the parents of his high school quarterback.
He suspects some of them have a little Titans in their blood.
"I just have one rule,'' Tate said. "You can cheer for the Titans, but you cannot wear Titans gear in the Lions family section. That is a no-no."
As for fans back in Tennessee: "I expect the Tennessee fans to root for the Titans team, but root for Golden, and hopefully cheer when I make a play. It should be fun."
Tate has enjoyed a nice career after playing at JPII, and then Notre Dame.
After playing four seasons with the Seahawks, where he won a Super Bowl ring, he joined the Lions prior to the 2014 season. Tate caught 99 balls his first year with the Lions, and 90 last season. In his career, Tate's caught 361 passes for 4,380 yards, with 25 touchdowns.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell raved about Tate on a conference call.
"He has always been an important part of what we do,'' Caldwell said of Tate. "He is a guy with a unique skill level, he's quick. He can get open, he can go deep, and he can hurt you even with short passes."
Tate said he's enjoying his time in Detroit after making the transition from Seattle. He believes the culture is changing in the Motor City.
"It was interesting (at first),'' Tate said. "I was very blessed to be in Seattle for the duration of my contract and I was blessed to come here and sign another big contract to allow my family to live comfortable. But it was different. When I came in I was coming off a Super Bowl and that is what I want to bring to Detroit, that mentality. Expecting to win and not hoping to win. I think we have guys who have jumped on board and are excited about where we're going.
"It is going to be fun (on Sunday vs. the Titans). But I am out there to do a job and that is to get a win -- that is most important. So I am just going to stay focused and give the Lions the best chance of winning."