(As read on Legacy.com)
James Robert Douglas Bironas
(January 29, 1978 – September 20, 2014)
Discipline, Focus, Preparation, Overcoming Adversity, and Recovering From Mistakes. These are the five keystones by which Rob Bironas lived his life. These are the elements by which he measured his Earthly success, and they are the platforms that he used to encourage children of Tennessee and Kentucky through this charity, the Rob Bironas Fund. These five principles closely aligned with Rob’s professional gifts – the way he was disciplined in training as a placekicker throughout his career. Rob had a cadence – the bounce on his toes, the steps toward the ball, the way his foot made contact, the ‘hang time’ in the air all before the ball made its way through the uprights. It was never by chance. His technique involved focus, preparation and almost always overcame adverse elements. Weather, wind, fierce opponents, grass conditions, ball position – it all mattered. And Rob knew how to adjust – how to navigate so that the results were intentional. In talking about his kicking technique, Rob often quoted the movie For Love of the Game by saying “clear the mechanism.” In his mind he could silence a crowd, calm a wind, and slow the game clock. And if discipline, focus, preparation, and overcoming adverse elements weren’t enough, he also knew how to recover from his missteps. Rob studied his errors, accepted them, and never let his mistakes on the field affect his mental game. Because it is a game. He loved football, but mostly he loved his life, his community, his wife, his son, and his friends and family.
James Robert Douglas Bironas was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 29, 1978 to Larry and Anne Bironas during an infamous snowstorm. The second of four children, Rob’s family is a picture of a rare, enviable close-knit, fun-loving, casually competitive unit. They respect each other, support each other and because there are just simply a lot of Bironases, the sheer number of them provides for both fun and chaos. Larry is the backbone of the Bironas family. He married Anne in 1971, and they live in Louisville, as do Rob’s two brothers and their wives and families. Greg (35) is married to Lindsey and they have two boys, Luke (6) and William (2). Blake (33) is married to Tracy and they have three children, Alena (6), Lainey (3) and Cohen (2). Rob’s sister, Mitzi (38) lives in Brentwood with her husband Chad, and their three children, Lilly (6), Annie (2) and Samuel (10 mos). Rob’s son, London Tyler Bironas (8), a ‘spitting image’ of his father, is a witty and kind-spirited budding soccer player who displays a familiar tenacity. Spending long stretches of time in Nashville with his dad, it was a common scene for all of the Bironas clan to attend Titan’s games in their “RB2” gear, and then pile into Rob’s house for a few days of family time. This was Rob’s normal. Their presence kept him grounded.
In November of 2012, Rob experienced a night that changed his life. While attending the charity event to benefit Breast Cancer research, Rob met Rachel Bradshaw, a Nashville songwriter and the daughter of NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback, Terry Bradshaw and Charla Bradshaw, a Dallas attorney. The connection between Rob and Rachel was immediate. Rob told his friends the next day that he had met his wife that night – only she didn’t know it yet. On June 28 of this year, Rachel Bradshaw became Mrs. Bironas on a beautiful summer evening in Dallas, TX. With their huge family and closest friends in attendance, the couple radiated happiness, and as they were pronounced husband and wife, Rachel literally jumped for joy. It is no doubt that such a deep connection between the two will never be forgotten by those closest to the couple.
Rob and Rachel lived a quiet life in Nashville. Their mutual love of music was evident throughout their home. A writing room with keyboards, a piano in the living room, a game room strewn with guitars, this was their passion. Rachel’s own talents as a writer and vocalist rival Rob’s abilities on the football field. Her talent for lyrical narrative and her pure, sweet voice have her poised for a successful career in country music. Rob and Rachel’s four dogs, Titan, Buster, Bella and Bianca are their beloved four-legged children. A typical night at the Bironas home was spent piled with their dogs in front of a movie. Rachel brought a grounding force to Rob and she created a home filled with love, music, and laughter; a life he held very dear.
Rob is best known for his role as Placekicker for the Tennessee Titans. He always knew he wanted to be a professional athlete, but he didn’t expect it to be in football. Growing up on the soccer fields in Louisville, KY, Rob aspired to make his career in soccer. His interest in football began when his Dad mentioned that his powerful soccer kick might be a good match for the sport. Rob’s younger brother Greg, who was a kicker in the eighth grade at the time, was Rob’s first coach. Their backyard became a practice field with pine trees and horse fences serving as goal posts.
Rob played football for Trinity High School in Louisville, and went on to play collegiate ball for Auburn University and Georgia Southern University. Signed to the Tennessee Titans in 2005, his road to the NFL was not without adversity and had many stops along the way. Rob played for the Arena Football League, and was later signed to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers before landing in Tennessee where he played for nine seasons. Rob’s career is marked with impressive football accomplishments. He holds the NFL record for the most field goals in one game, eight. Rob famously kicked a 60-yard game winner in 2006 to beat the Indianapolis Colts, was named All-Pro and selected to play in the 2008 Pro Bowl, is the second-highest scorer in Oilers/Titan’s history, and he will be remembered as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.
Rob dearly loved the Nashville community that supported him throughout his career, and he remained loyal to his home state of Kentucky, never forgetting his roots. Through Rob’s success as an athlete, he felt blessed to be able to give back to the communities where he grew up and where he made his home. Rob started the Rob Bironas Fund, a component fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, in 2008. The Rob Bironas Fund supports opportunities and organizations that have children at the center of their mission. Over the course of six years, tens of thousands of dollars have been distributed by Rob’s fund to the children of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. His passion for music and admiration for those with musical talent led Rob to support music education through The Nashville Symphony and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. He provided needed funds to area schools to purchase instruments for children with musical talent whose families could not otherwise afford them. He was a supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, granting a Wish by purchasing a pipe organ for one Wish child and sending another to the Grammy’s in 2013. He gave to Brave Hearts, an organization that supports children with congenial heart defects. In addition to his own charitable giving, Rob supported his friends and teammates in their own charitable endeavors, giving his time and talent to many worthy organizations. Each year he looked forward to the Kevin Carter Foundation’s “Waiting for Wishes” event, attending and raising money, but also donating a kicking clinic each year to the silent auction.
Rob was tragically taken from this Earth on September 20, 2014, too soon for a young man in such a beautiful moment in his life, happily married with an exciting career opportunity on the horizon. The impact that Rob Bironas made on his profession, his community, his friends, and his family is now a void in which all who loved him search for answers and through which we hope to find peace. As a believer in Jesus Christ, Rob has found rest in the arms of The Lord. He will be missed by all who knew him and were touched by him in this life.
Rob once said about his father, “He is the guy I look up to, the guy I hope to be like one day. He has succeeded in life in spite of where he started. He is a man of principle and truth; and has supported me every step of the way. My Dad is my true hero and I can’t thank him enough for believing in me.”
Rob, you are a man we look up to, a man we hope to be one day. You succeeded in life. You were a man of principle and truth, and have supported us every step of the way. You are our true hero.
Rachel Bradshaw Bironas and the Bironas family ask that you celebrate Rob’s life with gifts to the Rob Bironas Fund through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (www.cfmt.org). Funeral arrangements are as follows:
Visitation will be held at the Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home located at 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Funeral Services will be held at the same location on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 2:30 p.m.