The story of how the Tennessee Titans reached Super Bowl XXXIV doesn't begin during the 1999 season.

It doesn't even originate in the Volunteer State.

This is a tale that starts in Houston before shifting to Nashville before shifting to Memphis before going back to Nashville before moving to Atlanta for Sunday's game against St. Louis at the Georgia Dome.

Along the way, the franchise changed its name, its uniforms and, ultimately, its identity -- but not before enduring enough hardship to raise questions about whether the Titans should have been named the Titanics.

"If I had to write a book about it, it definitely would fall in the fiction section," Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher said. "You wouldn't believe the type of things we had to do."

Neither did the players.

Until this season, the Titans spent the previous three years with three home bases -- each of which had a set of problems.

In 1996, Houston became apathetic when it became obvious the franchise -- then known as the Oilers -- was going to leave town because of team owner Bud Adams' inability to strike a stadium deal with city officials.

In 1997, Memphis was apathetic because fans knew the Oilers were moving to Nashville.

The team practiced in Nashville during the week, then made the two-hour trip to Memphis for home games.

And when the Titans decided to move their home games to Nashville in 1998 despite Adelphia Coliseum not being completed, the situation got worse.

The Titans played at 41,000-seat Vanderbilt Stadium and endured their second season with team headquarters in a building that doubled as medical offices.

"At the time we were going through the move with the small crowds and no true home-field advantage, you really started to question whether this is all worth it," said Titans left guard Bruce Matthews, who has played with the franchise for 17 seasons.

"At the same time, our success now is directly attributed to what we went through. We have a mental toughness from all we've gone through."

When asking longtime Titans about the lowest point of the past four years, most horror stories center on the team's first season out of Houston.

Because of inadequate space at the medical offices, the coaches' offices were in trailers in the parking lot.

"Having meetings in a trailer park, you wonder if you're in the National Football League," Titans strong safety Blaine Bishop said.

"I didn't know if I was there or (at a small college). That was tough."

When the team arrived at the practice site, permanent goal posts hadn't been installed.