Bridgestone Road to the 2014 NFL Combine Journey: Titan Sized Edition

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The Trip

Bridgestone Road to the 2014 NFL Combine Journey: Titan Sized Edition

Oct 20, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; A view of footballs with pink breast cancer awareness logos before the game between the Carolina Panthers and the St. Louis Rams at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

One team bus full of Tennessee Titans enthusiasts met up at LP Field around 10:00 AM. These fans were prepared for the 4.5-hour bus ride that included one stop in Kentucky. Everyone was treated to a packed lunch, a showing of the Steve McNair film ‘A Football Life’, trivia and NFL Network coverage of the combine workout for tight ends. These conveniences made 4.5 hours fly quickly.

Many fans were surprised when they learned that three-time Pro Bowler and 1999 AFC Defensive Player of the Year Jevon Kearse would accompany them. My first thought was that he was in fantastic shape. Forget about Anthony Barr or Khalil Mack—bring Kearse back! Okay not really, but he could probably still get a couple sacks.

The Bridgestone Staff offered prizes to anyone who answered any of four trivia questions. Some of them were simple (e.g. who was the Titans’ head coach from 1994 through 2010). What stumped almost everyone for a few minutes was Kearse’s question:

Since the Houston / Tennessee Oilers were renamed the Tennessee Titans in 1999, who was the second player who the franchise drafted? Jevon Kearse was first…

ANSWER: Round 2 pick John Thornton.

Kearse was open to speaking with any individual. Toward the end of the trip to Indianapolis, Kearse opened himself up to about a 30-minute question-and-answers session. This session went a little rough because the audience was speaking over the bus noise. Sitting toward the back didn’t help me. Kearse was easier to understand because he had a microphone. Here were a few of his comments that I took note of:

  • He still trains. His training includes CrossFit.
  • He loves tutoring high school and collegiate students. He’s hoping that any future career will involve something of that nature.
  • He lives in Florida.
  • He still gets irked from his memory of Super Bowl XXXIV. That’s evidenced with his squirming at the time that ‘A Football Life’ started talking about that game, especially as Kevin Dyson‘s play approached.
  • Kearse loves Titans fans. His appreciation was maximized after his short stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. He talked about how even if the Titans went 0-16, the fans treated players with love and respect. He claimed that the Eagles could go 500-0 and they’ll whine and complain about the one bad quarter during that stretch.
  • Ladies…he’s still available.
  • Kearse’s athletic versatility was on display during his high school years. He played wide receiver and free safety.
  • He notes Jeff Fisher as a huge inspiration.
  • Kearse said some coaches coach and others pimp. Jim Washburn was a coach who pimps. Washburn motivated players through making up opponent trash-talk that involved players’ families.
  • Old-school Titans had great chemistry. The players had a special bond on and off the field. That’s what makes them great. It’s what has been lacking as of the last few seasons.
  • Small-market players (Titans) have each others’ backs. Big-market players are out for themselves. Kearse mentioned that former defensive lineman Josh Evans agreed with that after he left Tennessee to play for the New York Jets.
  • Middle school was around the time that he started getting involved with the Boys & Girls Club. He continues to help them through his foundation (HERE).
  • His favorite memory from the 1999 AFC champion season: Music City Miracle. That play reminded him that inches were what determined the outcome of games. Reinforcing that reminder: one-yard short in Super Bowl XXXIV.
  • The big difference between collegiate football and NFL football was the amount of games played. Whereas college players had 12-13 games plus a bowl appearance, the NFL has four preseason games plus 16 regular-sesaon games plus a maximum of four playoff games. It takes its toll on the body.
  • He loved playing against former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell because he was a left-handed quarterback. Left-handed quarterbacks were more prone to scrambling toward the left defensive end position. That means more sacks for Kearse.
  • Count Kearse among the Tim Tebow fanatics. Kearse feels like Tebow is a great fit for the Houston Texans or Jaguars, two AFC South teams who have quarterback needs and drafting in the top three.
  • He’s in a bowling league and averages in the 200s.

This trip marked my first experience with using a restroom on a moving vehicle. I’d love to admit that I was man enough to stand up while the bus was rocking sideways. Truth is…Dr. Dre won’t be offering me any “Beats” headphones anytime soon, at least not the ones with that Aloe Blacc song, “The Man.’

Damn legs.

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