CANTON, Ohio -- The NFL's first preseason game of 2009 was billed as an AFL tribute contest honoring two charter members, the Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills -- and no, that wasn't George Blanda handing off to Billy Cannon in the first quarter on Sunday night.
Most of the real nostalgia centered on whether Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young could recapture any of his 2006 rookie-season impact. Or even show anything of relevance after he sat on ice most of '08 following the loss of his starting job to veteran Kerry Collins in Week 1.
The verdict on Vince through one outing? Not so hot.
"I know everybody wants me to go out and be perfect," Young said of his 5-of-10 for 39 yards passing performance in a 21-18 Titans' Hall of Fame Game victory over the Bills. "But it's not happening like that. You can't just jump into it."
Then there was the debut of wide receiver Terrell Owens in yet another uniform. The Buffalo Bills colors, even the vintage 1960s stuff, worked out well for him -- Owens effortlessly caught the only two passes thrown to him by starting quarterback Trent Edwards, both out of the no-huddle offense, for 27 yards.
"It doesn't matter what uniform I'm wearing. I could be in a paper bag and I could make it happen," said Owens, breaking out in a huge smile. "You can write it now -- pull out a marker and write an '81' on a paper bag, and I'll make it happen."
What else did the game's two most intriguing players have to say about their first meaningful work of 2009?
First, let's go to T.O., who faced a crushing postgame interrogation wearing ski goggle-sized sunglasses while displaying an impressive tolerance for too many repetitive, stupid questions.
"Learning the offense is pretty much down. It's all about executing right now," said Owens, who in his 14th season, will continue to be one of the NFL's most bankable stars despite now playing in one of the league's smallest markets. "I felt good. We've been practicing hard. With that no-huddle offense, I feel like I'm in great shape."
The efficient, no-huddle scheme allowed Owens to shed the Titans' coverage with relative ease. On Owens' first reception, Edwards hit him in stride on a 16-yard slant that likely would have continued to the end zone had cornerback Cortland Finnegan not been in perfect position for the tackle.
Does the Bills' no-huddle scheme allow Buffalo's greatest offseason acquisition to get open more easily? "You know, you can never really tell," said Owens, who remained on the sidelines after the promising opening drive ended with an Edwards' interception. "It's just something that we're trying. We've been practicing it a lot. Sometimes you can get a no-huddle offense that can keep the defense off-balance a little bit with their personnel substitutions, things of that nature."
The chemistry between Owens and Edwards is developing nicely, according to both receiver and quarterback.
Owens: "Yeah. Until you get into a real-live situation as we were tonight, that's what the practices are for. It was good to just get under the lights and get something going. It's just practice -- I have knowledge of how things are, the concepts of the routes. And I'm no stranger to learning new offenses. So I just took it upon myself to just stick to what coach [Tyke] Tolbert, the receivers coach, went with and just hone down on the plays.
"If I'm knowing what I'm doing, and obviously Trent knows what's going on as far as dissecting and going through his progressions as far as the defense is concerned, we'll stay on the same page."
Said Edwards, who completed 3-of-4 passes for 34 yards, including the pick: "It's good to get the cobwebs out. [The rhythm] is just what we're trying to find right now."
Owens said there wasn't anything particularly meaningful about starting anew with his fourth NFL team since 1996. "This is my 14th season. A ball is a ball, when it comes to you. It's all about me just making the catch as the offense moves the chains."
Someone then asked Owens about playing next door to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and whether he can envision himself enshrined in that building one day.
This loaded query brought about a scowl. "Man, that's a ways down the road, guys," Owens responded. "I'm not gonna get into all that Hall of Fame talk. If I get in, I get in. If I don't, I don't."
Does it matter to him? "No, it really doesn't," said Owens, adding that he did has yet to tour the Hall of Fame museum. "I play this game because I love it. I'm blessed to play it. Coming from UT-Chattanooga, a lot of people didn't expect me to get this far or as long as I have, so I'm proud. And I think I've had a successful career."
In the opposite locker room at a newly remodeled Fawcett Stadium -- a nicer facility, by the way, than any of the current California NFL yards -- Young was undergoing a different kind of inquisition.
So much has been made of how important this preseason will be for the former University of Texas star. Can he regain the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year form that made him seem bigger than life?
That was a long time ago, and Young knows it.
After Collins completed 7-of-10 passes for 82 yards and led two touchdown drives -- including an impressive 3-of-4 for 49 yards on third down -- the call went to Young at the start of the second quarter.
Tennessee's momentum abruptly stalled, behind a 26-year-old who is still maturing both on an off the field. Young went 1-for-5 for 13 yards in his first three series, tossing a badly thrown interception out of the shotgun and mishandling another shotgun snap.
Then the game slowed down for him again, and Young threw a perfectly placed five-yard touchdown pass that third-string receiver Paul Williams caught over his shoulder in the corner of the end zone with 37 seconds remaining before halftime.
"Everything was good," Young said. "Getting the rust out, getting the guys out of the huddle in time, didn't have any delay of games or anything like that. That was pretty much my whole plan. Just manage the game. A couple of throws I would take back, but hey, it's football."
Young is at a point in his young career where he's also learning to choose his words more carefully. But he has no regrets for recent comments he made to Esquire magazine about regaining his starting job with the Titans, and then some.
"I don't know when I'll start again," he told Esquire. "But I will be the next black quarterback to win a Super Bowl. And I will be in the Hall of Fame."
Sunday night in Canton, Young -- who wore a No. 9 McNair jersey after the game to honor his mentor, the late Steve McNair -- said his tour of the Hall of Fame only reinforced his desire to be enshrined there.
"It just makes you want to work even harder, to get yourself there," said Young, who admitted the place gave him butterflies in his stomach as he went through the various exhibits. "As a fourth-year guy, I wish I would have toured that a long time ago."
Were his statements about winning the Super Bowl and getting a bust in Canton overly cocky? "Those were just bold statements -- that's me being very confident in myself," Young answered. "Just like [center] Kevin Mawae -- he's very confident in himself. Doing all the hard work to get into the Hall of Fame.
"We're going to have a lot of guys that are doing great things to get into the Hall of Fame. That's basically what I was saying. That I want to work hard, to get to the point where I can be in the Hall of Fame."