Axios Nashville

Picture of the Nashville skyline.
November 09, 2021

Good morning everybody and welcome to Tuesday.

☀️ Today's weather: 73, sunny and perfect.

Situational awareness: The Metro Nashville Public Health Department vaccinated 424 children ages 5-11 on Monday, its first day offering shots to that age group, a health department spokesperson tells Axios.

Today's newsletter is 934 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Time to believe in the Titans

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill runs against the Rams on Sunday night. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Hey Titans fans: Super Bowl LVI will be played on Feb. 13 in Inglewood, Calif.

  • The halftime show features hip-hop heavyweights Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.
  • SoFi Stadium is hosting the game, the stadium where the Titans just humbled yet another contender in the Rams to run their improbable win streak to five games.

Why it matters: We point out these details for planning purposes, because this could very well be the Titans' best shot at a Super Bowl since their championship run 21 years ago ended on the Rams' 1-yard line.

Driving the news: In the span of four weeks, the Titans have also defeated the reigning AFC champion Chiefs and the current odds-on favorite Bills.

  • With the rigorous part of the schedule out of the way, the Titans now have a clear path to the AFC's top seed and only playoff bye.
  • With superstar Derrick Henry likely sidelined through the regular season with a foot injury, the new winning formula has been the sturdy quarterback play of Ryan Tannehill and an emerging defense.

What they're saying: Let the experts explain why dreaming of the Super Bowl isn't merely Axios Nashville hype.

  • ESPN NFL insider Field Yates reported Monday that only three other teams in the last 15 years have won four straight games against opponents that made the playoffs the previous season. All three of those teams reached the Super Bowl.
  • "The Titans keep on rising to the challenge," Yates tweeted.
  • After watching the Titans drub the Rams, Tennessean sports columnist Gentry Estes concluded, "I’m not sure what else needs to happen for the Titans to be respected as a legitimate contender to return to this stadium in early 2022 for the Super Bowl."

Yes, but: The impressive wins haven't completely persuaded sportsbooks.

  • Although the Titans' Super Bowl odds have improved immensely since Week 1, from +3,000 to +1,000, they are still behind the Bills (+600) for the most likely AFC squad to win the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings.

2. Local pastor hailed as a hero

A local pastor tackled a man who marched to the front of his church with a gun Sunday, police said in a news statement.

  • Church members helped hold the man down and disarm him until officers arrived, according to the police.

What happened: Police said the suspect was sitting in the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal Church on West Trinity Lane Sunday afternoon.

  • While the pastor was praying with church members, the suspect got up, pulled a gun, and started waving it around.
  • Video obtained by WKRN shows pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana sneaking around the altar before running up behind the man and pulling him to the ground.
  • No shots were fired and police praised Ndikumana's "heroic" actions.

What he's saying: "I am very happy that I got to him first before he was able to shoot and hurt any of my members because they are my family," Ndikumana said in a statement through a translator, according to the Tennessean.

What's next: Police identified the suspect as Dezire Baganda, 26. Baganda had attended the church before but was not a member, the pastor told police.

  • He was charged with 15 counts of aggravated assault.

3. Amazon, software school join forces

Students at Nashville Software School
Students at Nashville Software School. Photo courtesy of the Nashville Software School

The Nashville Software School announced a partnership with Amazon to launch a new software engineering program.

  • The nine-month online program will be open to students nationwide. It's set to launch in June 2022.

Why it matters: Nashville has emerged as a growing tech sector leader with Amazon and software giant Oracle establishing corporate hubs here.

  • Amazon's partnership with the software school could create a pipeline to fill a pressing need as the region adds an array of high-level computing jobs.
  • The program is "the kind of infrastructure we're gonna need if we're gonna keep this up," John Wark, founder and CEO of the Nashville Software School, tells Axios.

How it works: The new program is adapted from the in-house curriculum Amazon uses to train employees going into software engineering.

The bottom line: Wark says the program could be transformational for the Nashville Software School, which launched in 2012 and has produced more than 1,600 graduates. He expects to see an uptick in enrollment.

  • "This program alone has the potential to double the number of motivated adults that we put into tech careers within two years."

4. The Setlist: TN's infrastructure haul

Illustration of the "Batman building" in Nashville with a bat-signal, with a note instead of a bat, shining on it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

💲 Tennessee will receive $5.8 billion in projects from the Biden administration's infrastructure bill. (NewsChannel 5)

Nashville police disciplined a captain for sexual harassment but allowed him to retire in good standing. (WPLN)

🏒 The Predators' often inconsistent power play is among the best in NHL so far this season. (Nashville Post, subscription required)

5. Redistricting, take 2

A map of the proposed new Metro Council districts for Davidson County
Image courtesy of the Metro Planning Department

Nashville's approach to redistricting came into sharper focus Friday when the city Planning Department released the second draft of its new map of council districts.

What she's saying: District 3, represented by Councilmember Jennifer Gamble, shifted back to incorporate more of the neighborhoods it currently represents.

  • "Many of the adjustments that I suggested have been made, including redrawing the west boundary to keep four historically Black suburban neighborhoods," Gamble tells Axios.

What's next: Planners are still working. Feedback could drive another round of changes before the final map is up for council approval.

6. The zoo welcomes babies

Two cotton-top tamarins
Photo courtesty of the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere

Nashville's rapidly expanding zoo grew by two more this month.

  • Two cotton-top tamarins, small monkeys native to Colombia, were born Nov. 2, the zoo announced Monday.

The babies will stay here for at least two years before going to other zoos for breeding.

Our picks:

🍿 Nate is watching the documentary "Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain" with gratitude for all the food and places he learned about through Mr. Bourdain's TV shows.

🪕 Adam spent the day listening to readers' recommended additions to our Axios Nashville playlist of country's greatest songs.