Predators superfan Lewan ready to party at Stadium Series vs. Lightning

NASHVILLE — The video clip shows Taylor Lewan in the Smashville jersey the Nashville Predators will wear against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at Nissan Stadium on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; TNT, SN360, TVAS2, NHL LIVE).

Lewan grabs a catfish from a bucket of ice, pops the top off a bottle of beer with his teeth, strolls down the hallway in the Predators locker room and slips out the door. If you’re a Nashville fan, you get the reference and can’t help but wonder what’s next.

Oh, yes. Lewan will be among the crowd of 65,000-plus when the Predators play outdoors on the field where he has played left tackle for the Tennessee Titans for the past eight seasons. He’s one of their famous fans and loves to fire up everyone for hockey here.

“I think it’s the most enjoyable sport to watch, and that includes football,” said Lewan, who co-hosts a podcast, “Bussin’ With The Boys,” with free agent linebacker Will Compton. “I’d rather watch a hockey game than a football game.

“The intensity on the ice. The communication. How when one guy moves from one area, some guy has to replace him. It’s a flow. It’s almost like art. You’re watching poetry in motion as these guys are moving.

“And it’s just something that I admire because I was never that good at it. I mean, football, I’ve been good at, and so I guess I don’t maybe admire it as much, because I know what it’s like to be good at that. But when I watch guys at hockey, it’s such a different world.”

Tweet from @BussinWTB: Next Saturday 👀

Lewan, 30, has been a hockey fan since his childhood in Arizona, when his late father, Dave, a Minnesota native, introduced him to the sport.

At the University of Michigan he lived on State Street, across from Yost Ice Arena, and next door to hockey players. They had a blast together, and he noted how a college hockey team with 20-something players could be more close-knit than a college football team with 100-plus players.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of camaraderie, and I just feel like hockey brings the most amount of camaraderie out of any sport I’ve seen,” Lewan said.

[RELATED: NHL Stadium Series coverage]

The Titans selected Lewan in the first round (No. 11) of the 2014 NFL Draft. He made the Pro Bowl from 2016-18, and they went from 2-14 in his rookie season to making the playoffs three straight seasons.

At the same time, the Predators made the postseason for seven straight seasons, advancing to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 2017, while the Nashville area grew rapidly. The city skyline and Broadway entertainment district have evolved dramatically.

“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, my god, I want to go live in Nashville, I want to go to Nashville, heard the place rips,'” Lewan said. “It’s gotten that reputation to allow things like this outdoor game in Nissan Stadium. Now we’ve become this, like, fun, sports, party town that everybody wants to be a part of.”

It was during the Predators’ 2017 playoff run that Lewan became legendary at Bridgestone Arena.

The Titans offensive line joined quarterback Marcus Mariota on the band stage before the Predators played the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, and Lewan brought a catfish, the Nashville version of the Detroit Red Wings octopus tradition.

Mariota waved a gold towel.

“The guy is not a center-of-attention cat like your boy you’re talking to right now,” Lewan said. “He keeps to himself, he’s a hard worker. Nice, humble human being. Like, the exact opposite of me, besides the hard-working part, right?”

Lewan wanted to crank up the energy. The linemen cracked open Bud Light tallboys and didn’t just chug the beer. They held the catfish aloft and angled it toward Lewan, then poured beer over it and into his mouth.

“They were kind of like, ‘No, I don’t know if we should do that,'” Lewan said. “I was like, ‘Boys, it’s going to be awesome and they’re going to love it.'”

The video went viral.

“In my mind I was bridging the gap between the Titans and the Predators,” Lewan said. “How do we get it to where we all kind of work together?”

When the Titans opened the 2017 season against the Oakland Raiders at Nissan Stadium, the Predators showed up as a team in Titans jerseys. Defenseman Roman Josi participated in the pregame tradition by planting the 12th Titan Sword of Honor at midfield. Later, they returned the favor to Lewan.

“I remember looking up on the big screen and it showed the Predators on the big screen, and they have catfish in their hands and they’re chugging the beer,” Lewan said. “And to me, I was like, ‘What a cool thing that they’re now out supporting us the way we came out and supported them.'”

Lewan has continued to support the Predators, like when they played the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup First Round last season. Lewan chugged beer, ripped off his Predators jersey and chugged more beer as the crowd roared. (He bought jerseys for fans who got sprayed.)

“The guys from the team are awesome dudes,” Lewan said. “I mean, who doesn’t have a crush on Roman Josi, right? The guy’s an absolute heartthrob. Ryan Johansen‘s a man’s man. [Juuse] Saros, he’s got that European vibe, but he’s got a beautiful smile and he enjoys everybody’s company.”

Now Lewan gets to enjoy a hockey game at his team’s football stadium.

“It’s just cool to me,” Lewan said. “I’m like a fan now, which is a fun deal.”

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