2020 Titans Community Impact Report

Page 1



Friends and colleagues,

We know the unusual and unsettling feeling we’ve shared over the last 10 months won’t come to a tidy close at the end of 2020. While it’s safe to say everyone has faced unforeseen challenges over the past year, the people of Nashville are weathering a storm unlike any other. From the devastating tornadoes and crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the Christmas morning bombing, we have been tested.

Last season, our football team rallied around the idea of moving from “Good to Great” and we believe this ideology extends far beyond the walls of our practice facility. Teams and organizations that will survive and even thrive through hard times like this – those that see the challenge as part of their journey from good to great – have something better than hope: the will to prevail. We can acknowledge the brutal truth of the challenges we face and the uncertainty about when it will end, but at the same time have no doubt – none – that our team and our community will emerge stronger and greater for having endured it.

Ten months into this challenge, the pandemic’s impact is becoming more disruptive, not less. We don’t know when it will end, or when our city will operate normally, or what the upcoming year will look like; but we know we will prevail. We have no doubt that the will, focus, and determination we have brought to date – the same will, focus, and determination we will continue to bring for as long as the circumstances require – is laying the foundation, brick-by-brick and challenge-by-challenge, for an era of sustained greatness for not only the Tennessee Titans organization but the city as a whole.

As it always has, and always will, Nashville will prevail.



On the morning of March 3, tornadoes ripped across Nashville and surrounding areas. At least 24 people were killed across the state, including two in Nashville.

The Titans loaded into buses at Saint Thomas Sports Park the morning of Friday, March 6 and headed in the same direction as Nissan Stadium.

But on this day, their destination wasn’t a football stadium.

Instead, it was the North Nashville neighborhoods ravaged by the deadly tornado earlier that same week, where many of their neighbors were displaced, and had their lives changed forever.

On these streets, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel drove a truck full of water and supplies to those in need, general manager Jon Robinson standing on the vehicle’s side running board, and Kenneth Adams IV from the ownership group crowded with other members of the organization in the bed of the white Nissan Titan.

On these streets, safety Kevin Byard stepped onto the porches and chatted with the homeowners without power, their homes severely damaged, with roofs covered by tarps. Some of the homes were completely gone.

On these streets, Titans players went to work, cutting down trees and stacking up piles of brush.

On these streets, Titans receiver A.J. Brown delivered pizzas to hungry Nashvillians.

Later in the day, some in the organization traveled to Hermitage, another area hit by the storm, to drop off supplies.

“(The coaches and players), they went to work,” said Tina Tuggle, Vice President of Community Impact. “They didn’t go out there as Tennessee Titans, they went out there as members of the community who wanted to do their part while making a difference in restoring and beginning the process of rebuilding, and that was awesome to see.”

“This is our community, and we want to help. It’s people helping each other,” Vrabel said. “We are just a small part of a large community that’s trying to help people wherever we can.”

Titans Foundation and controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk donate $1 million to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s tornado relief fund

• The NFL Foundation donates $250,000 to the CFMT tornado relief fund and begins work with local schools to assess needs for football field repair and equipment replacement

Titans partner with Hands On Nashville to encourage volunteer and clean-up efforts

Titans players, coaches and front office spend the day volunteering in a North Nashville neighborhood

4 5


T he COVID-19 pandemic is a time of unprecedented challenge for our healthcare and frontline workers, local businesses, and community as a whole.

Organizations have had to pivot over the last year, finding new and inventive ways to achieve the same goals. With players and coaches in strict quarantine and non-football staff working remotely beginning in March, the Titans were faced with a unique set of challenges – keeping the players accessible to the community, facilitating their community engagement and volunteerism without violating NFL protocol, and continuing to provide resources to those in need in our community. Keeping the staff engaged with the team’s community efforts was also of utmost importance as the team made the transition to work from home indefinitely.

• Take A Titan 2 School program goes virtual with Zoom two “classroom” visits each week of the regular season

• Also hosted virtual visits with students in the YWCA’s Amend Program

• Established “Community Connections” program to keep staff engaged with local community groups and nonprofits

• Nissan Stadium parking lot used as COVID community testing site offering free testing to the general public through a partnership with Meharry Medical College

• Supported Bridge Ministry with a $20,000 grant as they transitioned their annual Christmas and Thanksgiving events to a new COVID-friendly format

• Partnered with Feeding Nashville to host a COVID-friendly Thanksgiving meal distribution event at Nissan Stadium benefitting 700 people

• Kevin Byard packed and distributed 100 distance learning kits for Metro Nashville

Public School students and families

• Created Stay Home Stay Strong website with a small business resource center, quarantine games and fun activities, community resources, educational tools, and more

Titans players surprise frontline healthcare workers with meals and virtual visits

• Nissan Stadium holds Project C.U.R.E. PPE drive to benefit local hospitals, clinics and other health organizations in need of medical supplies

• Titans Foundation partners with Saint Thomas Health Foundation to provide lodging and meals for more than 250 doctors and nurses who can’t return home to their families out of fear of spreading the virus to their loved ones

Titans partner with USA Football to offer an online youth coach certification course for youth and middle school football coaches quarantined at home


6 7


On Christmas morning, a bomb exploded on 2nd Avenue in downtown Nashville, destroying local businesses and homes in the blast zone. Miraculously, only a few people sustained non-life threatening injuries.

In their final regular season game against the Houston Texans, the Titans donned helmet decals to honor the resilience of Nashville in the aftermath of the Christmas Day bombing. The decal featured the text “615 Strong,” a reference to the city’s area code, with the “6” colored in Titans light blue in honor of the six first responders who successfully evacuated the area prior to the explosion -- Officers Brenna Hosey, Tyler Luellen, Michael Sipos, Amanda Topping, James Wells and Sergeant Timothy Miller.

The organization also joined the player-led effort started by linebacker Will Compton with a donation to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.’s Music City, Inc. relief fund, which will assist businesses, residents and employees impacted by the bombing.

Titans donned “615 Strong” helmet stickers in final regular season home game to honor the resiliency of Nashville and the six first responders who successfully evacuated the area prior to the explosion

• Organization joined player-led effort with a donation to the Nashville Convention and Visitors

• “Nashville 6” named 12th Titan for the team’s home playoff game on January 10

• Nissan Stadium served as a shelter for people impacted by the bombing and a site for nearly 40 portable cell sites



Members of the Titans organization – from front office officials to coaches to players – have had a number of conversations on subjects of police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, and the protests that have followed across the country.

• Titans cancelled practice with emotional pleas for social justice

Titans partnered with I Am A Voter. on national voter registration campaign

• Players donated more than $100K to social justice-related causes and charities

• Players created “Real Conversations with a Titan” virtual program to reach local students and address issues of social justice, racism and police brutality

• Mascot T-Rac and Titans cheerleaders visited popular polling locations in Davidson County on Election Day

• We Stand For platform revamped to include a resource guide for local and black-owned businesses plus links to educational resources on white privilege, anti-racism, social justice, police brutality and reform, and more

Tight ends pledged $1,000 per touchdown to benefit 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee

I want to add my voice and the voice of our organization to the calls for equality and reiterate our firm stance against all forms of racism,” Strunk said in a statement. “Hearts, minds and institutions need to change throughout our country. Those who face racism need to be heard, and more importantly, understood by those who haven’t listened before. Our organization and our players have dedicated time and resources to these issues through the ‘We Stand For’ campaign and we are making a difference in our own community, tackling issues like educational equity, judicial reform, policing policies and assistance for underserved areas. We are proud to support those efforts and we will continue to find ways to impact our region.

Hearing our players and coaches speak over the last two weeks has been constructive to this vital discussion. I support our players using peaceful protests and their platforms to advance us as a nation. I would encourage those who haven’t thought about these issues before to understand the pain, anger and frustration of the black community. Black lives matter. We should all agree on that.”


“I’d like to acknowledge my own personal privilege, one that is real. And I’d like to acknowledge a social blind spot that either I was unaware of or chose not to see. I’ve had the unbelievable opportunity to listen to our players … in our team meetings. I listen to them with an open mind and hear and learn what they believe in and how they feel. Amy, Jon and myself have tried to put great people and great fathers and great husbands and great student-athletes onto our football team, and the majority of those men are African-American with a much different experience and background than I’ll ever know. And by listening and understanding those thoughts and feelings, and how they feel, has helped me recognize what is important, and what is important is we find ways to respect each others’ feelings, that we respect each others’ beliefs, that we respect each others’ efforts to make positive change in our community where we work, the communities where we live and the communities where we grew up.”

“ There shouldn’t be a standard for how to live as a black person in our country. I had a great conversation with a staff member the other day who teared up in my office talking about how he hopes this (Black Lives Matter) movement can create change, a sustained change, so that talk that he had to have with his parents as a young black man, that he does not have to have that same talk with how to be leery and how to conduct himself as a black man in our country. We’ve got to be better.”

10 11


The Titans want to help make a difference in communities across the country, and on one specific weekend, they do so with their cleats.

For the fifth-consecutive season, NFL players are raising awareness for non-profit organizations and causes on the field through the My Cause My Cleats campaign.

A total of 19 Titans signed up to participate for Sunday’s game against the Browns.

Among those taking part: Derrick Henry, whose cleats will focus on his Two All Foundation, and helping youth across the country.

“My Cause My Cleats I’m doing it on my Two All Foundation to level the playing field for the youth,” Henry said on Thursday. “I’m big on youth, being a great resource for the kids, being a helping hand, doing anything I can to help kids in any way

possible. I was the type of kid that looked for a role model, a guy that reached out, had a huge platform. Sports was what I always looked to, so I want to be that for those kids.

“It’s a good way for guys to raise money for these different organizations and foundations, something that they’re passionate about and being able to use our platform to be a blessing for others. It’s a great thing the NFL is doing and a great thing that all these NFL players are doing.”

My Cause My Cleats is a player-led campaign that began in 2016.

According to the NFL, this year’s causes across the NFL include topics such as tackling social injustice,

12 13

supporting families in the wake of COVID-19, and bridging the digital divide. Out of the total 20.5 percent of players selected social justice causes, 17 percent selected causes related to youth and education while 14 percent of players will support health and wellness-related initiatives.

Titans receiver Cameron Batson wants to bring attention to ALS, in memory of his grandmother, Debra Lusk.

“My grandmother was a great role model –she was one of the most sincere and strongest individuals that I know,” Batson said on Friday.

“She was diagnosed in 2008 and started to lose feeling in her arms and her hands at first, and it slowly progress into her body. Eventually she had to have a feeding tube put into her stomach because she couldn’t chew. And last year, on my father’s birthday, she ended up passing -that’s was my father’s mother. So I want to bring awareness to ALS – it is a muscular disease that slowly degenerates your muscle. They don’t know the cause of it, so that’s why I partnered with ALS Foundation to raise awareness.”

On Batson’s custom cleat it the words RIP Debra “Hamma” Lusk are inscribed on the side.

“When I was younger, I couldn’t say Grandma, so I would say, ‘Hamma, Hamma,” Batson said with a smile. “The name just stuck and we have been calling her ‘Hamma’ ever since.”

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will represent both the Equal Justice Initiative and Lifewater International.

“My Cause My Cleats was created out of conversations with NFL players who wanted an opportunity to shed light on causes that mean the most to them,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Season after season I am inspired by the growing number of NFL players that participate in My Cause My Cleats and the causes they represent. Each player has a story to tell and we are grateful for the impact they make in the communities in which they live and work, and society in general.”

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill supports the Equal Justice Initiative for My Cause My Cleats

Titans safety Kevin Byard wore custom cleats honoring the Byard Family Legacy Fund during Sunday’s game against the Browns

Titans guard/center Jamil Douglas wore custom cleats honoring RISE during Sunday’s game against the Browns

14 15


Josh Corey envisions brighter days ahead.

“At some point, the lines are going to be painted on the field, and the scoreboards are going to be turned on,” said Corey, Football Outreach Manager for the Titans. “And at some point, the kids are going to be dressed out, and we’re going to be playing football, hopefully this fall.”

But for the time being, because of the coronavirus pandemic, football has been put on hold.

And right now, no one is sure when the clock will start on the return to meetings, practices, scrimmages, and eventually, games.

In the meantime, Corey and the Titans wanted to do something to support youth and middle school organizations in the area, in an effort help them get ahead of the game when it is time to hit the field.

During a time when NFL, college and high school football teams deal with plenty of questions, the Titans became the first and only NFL team to partner with USA Football to host a series of free webinars for local youth league coaches and commissioners.

Also, with youth and middle school football coaches currently quarantined at home and unable to attend certification classes or clinics, the Titans stepped up as USA Football began offering their online youth coach certification course. The Titans have decided to cover the $15 fee for up to 400 coaches in the region, across Tennessee and into north Alabama and southern Kentucky as well.

• Titans donated 338 pairs of teamissued cleats and 15 bags of gear to 18 local high schools

Tennessee’s top high school football players for 2020 were recognized at the Tennessee Titans Mr. Football Awards banquet at Nissan Stadium

• Linebacker Rashaan Evans donated $40,000 worth of equipment to Loachapoka High School football team in his home state of Alabama

• Titans supported Shelby County Public Schools with a grant for their combine skills showcase for more than 400 youth players

Titans partner with USA Football to offer an online youth coach certification course for youth and middle school football coaches quarantined at home

• Coalfield head football coach Keith Henry was posthumously named the Tennessee Titans High School Coach of the Year after winning the 1A state championship; Henry passed away from COVID-19 complications on December 5

“What we are doing is a two-pronged approach to help support (these coaches),” said Corey, a former high school football coach who works in the team’s community relations department, coordinating all of the team’s football-related outreach efforts. “We were very pleased with the coaches’ participation, and very pleased with the content that was offered to them.

“And now we want to see these coaches get their certification through USA for the upcoming season.”

USA Football CEO and Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck lauded the Titans for their efforts.

“The Titans’ commitment to youth football matches the excitement of their thrilling January playoff run – and it always has,” Hallenbeck said.

“The biggest winners from the team’s coach certification scholarships and our co-hosted

webinars are our kids. The Titans may be the first NFL team to hold a webinar series with us, but they won’t be the last. We work with every NFL club and many college programs – they’re learning of the innovation coming out of Tennessee and are pursuing similar initiatives with us to support young players and families across our sport.”

The webinars, which began on April 20 and wrapped up on Monday night, welcomed hundreds of registrants. The topics included USA Football’s “Prep for Contact” to teach blocking and tackling, “Building Better Programs and Players,” and “Technique and Scheme.” The presentations were led by USA Football and top high school coaches, with consultation from Corey.

The online youth certification courses should be ramped up for youth and middle school coaches later this week. In previous years, the Titans held a youth and middle school certification clinic for

16 17

coaches in June, in addition to a Coaches Clinic for high school coaches and a 7-on-7 passing tournament for high school teams in July.

USA Football’s nationally accredited Youth Coach Certification is available online. The Titans will provide a registration code to youth and middle school coaches in the Nashville area for a certification to benefit their kids.

Webinar replays are available at TennesseeTitans.com/StayHomeStayStrong.

USA Football is the sport’s national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. The independent non-profit offers the only youth football coach education accredited by the U.S. Center for Coaching Excellence. More than 700,000 coach certifications have been completed through USA Football since 2012.

“Obviously we are all trying to be creative and come up with different programming that still supports our coaches – youth and high school football in general – while we are all away from the office and aren’t able to have those personal interactions,” Corey said.

“We were trying to find some ways to think outside-the-box on how we could still serve our coaches and commissioners in youth football, and this was something that was definitely unique. I’ve gotten text messages from commissioners and some emails from different youth coaches showing their gratitude and appreciation for us thinking about them during this time. We are very happy with the attendance and the feedback from the coaches has been really good, so we feel good about that.”

18 19


Cheer highlights:

324 appearance hours

• Delivered toys, books and games for 300 children of active duty Fort Campbell soldiers

• Assisted in the delivery of 50 beds to children in need from the Youth Villages program

• Visited polling locations throughout Nashville on Election Day to celebrate voters

Blue Crew highlights:

• 116 appearance hours

• Visited neighborhoods throughout Tennessee to enhance fans’ “homegating” and watch party experiences

• Part of the Titans Random Acts of Kindness program

T-Rac highlights:

• 250 appearance hours

• Selected as one of 3 mascots to represent the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program

• Wrote and produced a new virtual school show to reach thousands of students in the Titans market

• Celebrity appearance on Titan Games which aired nationwide with 3.55 million viewers

20 21

SOCIAL CUTS 2020 in their own words

22 23