At The Players’ Tribune, we know it’s not just where you’re going, but where you’ve been. That’s why we’re introducing Road Trip, a new series where we ask our contributors to unfold their maps and point us toward some favorite cities, old stomping grounds and anywhere else that gives them their sense of place.
Kicking things off with Road Trip No. 1 is Titans running back (and Nashville newbie) Bishop Sankey.
Dayton, Spokane and Everywhere in Between
People are so quick to put you in a box based on where you’re from. Some people assume I’m the “Midwestern guy.” Others assume I’m the “West Coast guy.”
The truth is that I’m both.
Ohio is where I started to play football. I have a lot of family there. That’s really where I got my foundation, my beginning. But Spokane also shaped me into who I am today. It made me more well-rounded, I think. I don’t know if I would call moving to Spokane a culture shock, but it was a whole different city, a whole different state, a whole different region of the country. So yeah, it was kind of a culture shock.
I grew up in a military family. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a bit. Moving is tough. Each time you move, you’re forced out of your comfort zone. You’re always the new guy. As a kid, even moving around towns within Ohio, I’d have to change schools and meet new people.
My dad and I would just drive around the different cities and talk. We’d see the sights and imagine what it would be like to live there or spend a day there.
One of my favorite experiences as a little kid was when we moved from Dayton to Spokane, and drove clear across the country. It was like a five-day road trip and we made stops all along the way. First Chicago. Then Wisconsin. Then South Dakota.
Want to know what’s in South Dakota?
Seriously, I remember seeing just land. And cows. Lots and lots of cows.
It was so cool to take that long drive, states turning into other states, the scenery changing. It’s crazy to think about what people have been able to make in this country — all of that highway stretching from coast to coast. There are roads, freeways, railroad systems and everything.
My favorite stop on the trip, though, was probably Wisconsin. Malls and cheese? It’s lit.
During the offseason, I visited Miami to train for a week and do some sightseeing. The culture and diversity of Miami really stuck with me. For instance, kids in Little Havana learn Spanish in elementary school, and then learn English as a second language. I find stuff like that fascinating. It’s really cool to think that there are parts of the United States that are functioning on a level of true diversity. It actually made me want to learn another language.
And of course, I wanted to go to Miami to have some fun. Those beaches? Man! We got on one of those banana boats in South Beach — I honestly thought I was gonna fall off a few times, but somehow kept myself upright.
One of my favorite meals in Miami was at a place called Tap Tap, this cool Haitian spot. I’d never been to an authentic Haitian restaurant before, so that was an experience. I love trying new things. I forget what I ordered — all I remember is that I’d never had it before and I want to have it again.
I went to school at the University of Washington, so Seattle was always close by and I got to know it pretty well. It’s a great city.
We used to go to this place in the University District called Gas Works Park. Sometimes I’d go just to relax and people-watch. From the hill that sits in the center of the park, you can see the skyline of Seattle, the Space Needle, everything.
Another place people need to check out in Seattle is the Gum Wall. It’s a single wall … with all of this old, dried-up gum stuck to it. Okay, writing that out, I admit it sounds a little gross. But trust me, it’s cool. Definitely worth a look.
Seattle has amazing food. There’s this place called Ezell’s in the Central District that has the best chicken I have ever eaten in my life. In my life. It’s a soul food spot and it has everything: mashed potatoes, green beans, the whole deal. Take my advice: If you’re ever in Seattle, go to Ezell’s.
And you know I’m putting Nashville on here.
Honestly, I didn’t know much about Nashville before I came to play for the Titans. But it’s been a really good experience. Nashville has something for everyone. You want a little country? Downtown is perfect for you. East Nashville is young and trendy, if that’s your vibe. Midtown is a big college scene. And Centennial Park is right there in the city if you want to hang out, ride a bike or just be outside in general.
But the best part of Nashville is the live music, hands down. I remember going to B.B. King’s when I first got here. It’s on 2nd Street, right near Downtown. Good food. Great music. The local musicians — just the passion they have for their craft, you can see it when they’re up there performing.
And people go nuts for it. People will get up from their tables and just start dancing. No, really. You’ll see people eating, having a normal dinner … but then once the music starts playing, they’ll stand right up and head straight for the dance floor. Literally leave their food and everything. It’s no joke. Nashville is the spot.