NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kevin Byard grew up in Philadelphia, and a lot of his childhood memories involve the Eagles.
The Titans safety used to own a Lito Sheppard jersey – it was a gift from his uncle, who was also a fan of the Eagles cornerback. And he remembers going to a Super Bowl XXXIX party at the end of the 2004 season at his aunt's house, and the disappointment that followed.
"I grew up always hearing my dad and my uncle complain about Donovan McNabb never winning a Super Bowl," Byard said with a smile. "Eagles fans are pretty rowdy, and my family has been die-hard Eagles fans since I can remember."
Byard ended up moving to Atlanta in the ninth grade when his parents got divorced, and his mother moved with the children. His father remains in Philadelphia with the rest of the family, including aunts, uncles and cousins.
The Titans face Eagles on Sunday, and guess who is coming to town? Yep, the Eagles clan.
Byard, who starred at MTSU and is in his third year with the Titans, has already established some ground rules.
"I told them: No Eagles gear at all," Byard said. "No green in the family section."
Byard is looking forward to Sunday.
"My entire family is from Philadelphia, and I have a lot of family coming down to this game," he said. "Growing up watching a team your whole life, you finally get to play them and they went to the Super Bowl last year. It is going to be very exciting for our team, for our fan base, for the entire city of Nashville.
"It will be great to try and get a win against the defending Super Bowl champions, and try and keep this momentum going."
Byard knows the Titans will face a big challenge.
Quarterback Carson Wentz returned to the lineup last week for the first time since his ACL injury last year, and he played well in a win over the Colts.
"When I was watching him, I was seeing him scramble, cutting off knees. I don't think he has any fears about re-injuring his knee at all. And their offense, they play great complimentary football," Byard said of Wentz, and the Eagles.
"I think Wentz will be similar to the guy we faced in Week 2 in (Houston's) Deshaun Watson. When the play breaks down, he can extend plays with his feet and find the second and third options. He can scramble across the field, but he has a strong arm as well. He's a great athlete.
"It's going to be a challenge, but we'll be ready for it. I know I'm excited about it."
The Tennessee Titans practice inside the bubble on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)