This is a wonderful time of year for any sports fan.
Both college and professional football are halfway through their seasons, when games become more significant and rivalries become more meaningful. The MLB playoffs and World Series deliver some of the best moments in the entire sports world every year, and an eventual champion. And after a few slow months the NBA is finally back, with college basketball not far behind.
Whether you are a die-hard fan of teams in every sport or just casually follow a team in one of them, October is usually one of the more action packed and exciting months on the sports calendar. This has become an even bigger truth with the evolution of social media and the various ways people can interact with other fans about their teams. The experience is not just limited to posts, comments, likes, and retweets. Several talented individuals have utilized their creative gifts to enhance the fan experience for thousands through videos, podcasts, and graphic arts.
It is very likely that every team’s fan base in each sport features a few to several of these individuals. Personally, I have witnessed and interacted with the work of many of them. I honestly can say that few, if any, were as creative or made a bigger impact on his fellow fans than Tennessee’s own Matt Neely.
Unless you are a fan of the Tennessee Titans, it is understandable if you have not heard the name Matt Neely before. He is not someone “famous” or a big media personality. He simply was a regular guy, with a remarkable blend of creativity and passion when it came to sports that truly made him special. He is one of the most beloved and well known social media personalities among Titans’ fans.
Many know him for his work with the RPO Podcast, whose website contains some of the best examples of Neely’s creativity and personality. Neely eventually caught the attention of Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, current NFL players and former Tennessee Titan teammates. With Neely’s talents on board, Bussin’ With the Boys has quickly become one of the best athlete hosted podcasts around the NFL and the sports world.
A Marc Gasol championship is a Grizzlies championship— matt (@mattneely_) June 8, 2019
Beyond his success with podcasts, Neely probably was best known for his creative audio and visual talents through Twitter. Rather it was rallying the troops to see which NFL fan base was best represented on Twitter or leading the way through trash talk with fans of rival teams, Neely was at his best when interacting with his fellow fans on social media.
Those same opinions and creative talents were not just limited to the Titans. Neely was also a die-hard Grizzlies fans. On several occasions, I had the pleasure of interacting and joking with him about the Grizzlies’ successes and struggles. Matt was just like each of us, expressing his joy and happiness during the Grit and Grind era and his disappointment and frustration with the results of the past few years. Neely especially cheered for Zach Randolph, so much so that he frequently updated his followers on his beloved dog, Z-Bo.
October was one of the months when Neely shined the brightest. With new material to feature and more fans to entertain each year, Neely would consistently deliver entertaining and humorous content for all to enjoy. With the success of Bussin’ with the Boys entering its first NFL season, this October was lining up to be his most successful one to date.
Unexpectedly and unfortunately, Matt Neely passed away back on October 10th, 2019. Many sports fans, both in and outside the Titans’ fan base, were shocked and saddened by the news. Everyone that has expressed their condolences mentioned in some way how passionate and gifted of a person he was, while those that knew him commented on how much he cared for others. Yes, Matt Neely was extremely passionate about sports.
However, what made Matt Neely stand out as a “superfan” was his passion to make the fan experience for thousands of fellow fans he had never met as best as it can be.
For years, I have been one of those fans. While I have never met Matt Neely, nor do I have any knowledge of who he was as a person, I have been inspired by his passion and efforts that has increased my joy of being a Titans and Grizzlies fan. For that reason, I am writing this remembrance article for someone I have never met because I am grateful for what he did for me and my fellow fans. The hashtags #ForTheBoy and #DontGiveA have been frequently mentioned across Twitter in recent days, and they are a representation of who Matt Neely was as a fan. Without caution or a filter, Neely was persistent and straightforward with his love for the Titans and Grizzlies. He was just as critical as he was complimentary, and was among the most vocal supporters around for both teams.
Matt Neely was a wonderful example of who we should all be as fans. In a world where more and more negativity seems to show up each day, the positive experience of being a sports fan should be cherished by anyone who desires it. Not only did Matt Neely make the most of his fan hood for himself, he did all he could to make that same thing possible for thousands of others. Whether you have never heard of his name or not, simply honor Matt Neely’s memory by being the best fan you can be. Hopefully, it will make your life better and happier, just as it seemed to do for Matt.
RIP Matt Neely, and hopefully the Grizzlies and Titans will make this a special year to remember #FortheBoy.