NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans quarterback Matt Cassel has played in over 100 games in the NFL, including the playoffs, and a Pro Bowl.
One of the most memorable sporting events in his life, however, came well before high school, college, or even the pros.
Cassel played in the 1994 Little League World Series as a member of the Northridge (Calif.) All-Stars. He was 12-years-old at the time, and to this day, he never gets tired of talking about it.
Cassel and his teammates won the United States championship in Williamsport, Pa., before losing to Venezuela in the World Championship.
"It was an unbelievable experience,'' Cassel said. "There's nothing quite like it as a 12-year-old kid. And really, when you are 12, you don't appreciate it as much as when you get older and start to realize what a memorable moment it was in all of our lives, going to the Little League World Series and the notoriety we got.
"We were on ESPN, and the baseball strike was going on at the time, so we met (former Major League Baseball star) Steve Garvey and a lot of these guys. And after winning the United States championship, coming home, we came home and there was a parade. We went on the Jay Leno Show, we met Ronald Reagan, and we met Bill Clinton. … You are doing it and you have some recognition of these people and the importance they have, but as you get older you really appreciate it. It was pretty special."
Cassel, a first baseman, said he still watches the LLWS when he gets a chance.
Goodlettsville, located just outside of Nashville, will face Bowling Green (Ky.) on Thursday (6:30 p.m., ESPN) in the LLWS, and the winner of that game will advance to the United States championship game on Saturday.
New Titans QB Matt Cassel arrives at Saint Thomas Sports Park to sign his contract. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
Cassel is set to begin his 12th NFL season, and his first with the Titans. He's played with the Patriots, Chiefs, Vikings, Bills and Cowboys during his career.
Back in 1994, Cassel played a key role on "The Earthquake Kids," the little league team from Northridge that made it all the way to the LLWS after an earthquake leveled many of their homes.
Cassel hit in the high .300s in the tournament, and hit a home run. Northridge lost the first game in Williamsport, but came out of the losers' bracket to win the U.S. title before advancing to the world final vs Venezuela.
"My mom without a doubt has all (the clippings), and she still has the bat we all used,'' Cassel said with a smile. "One of our outfielders, Spencer Gordon, named my white TPX bat 'Susan' and we all used that bat. I don't know how we came up with the name, but we literally called her by name Susan and half the team used the bat.
"It was quite a memorable experience. We had a lot of good players on the team."
Something else Cassel remembers – all the free bats, gloves and batting gloves they received from the sponsors, and how shocked they were to get it.
"We were sitting there thinking, 'Wait, you're giving us this stuff?','' Cassel said. "It was pretty cool."
Cassel also remembers just being a kid, and having fun.
He said the little leaguers will never forget their moment in time.
"Every tournament brings its own pressure, and there was pressure,'' Cassel said. "But at the same time when you are 12 and you are with all your buddies and winning, it's fun. The group we had was a tight-knit group, and we had a tremendous amount of confidence.
"It was a great time in our lives. We always slept over at each other's house, had pizza parties and just hung out during the summer. It was a fantastic time, and it's what childhood should be all about. I know it's something I'll never forget."
TitansOnline.com looks at the NFL career of QB Matt Cassel. (AP Photos)