Tennessee Titans: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary)
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Jevon Kearse, Tennessee Titans
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35. . DE. (1999-03, 2008-09). Jevon Kearse. 13. player

  • First-Team All-Pro (1999)
  • 1999 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
  • 3x Pro Bowl (1999-01)
  • 52.0 career quarterback sacks w/Titans

Jevon Kearse is one of many outstanding pass rushers in Oilers/Titans history. However, he stands out mostly due to his unbelievable athleticism he displayed during his first three years in the league with the Titans from 1999 to 2001.

After forgoing his final season at the University of Florida, Kearse entered the 1999 NFL Draft. He would be the No. 16 overall pick by the recently rebranded Titans in that draft. What happened next was something few really saw coming.

Tennessee made its first, and thus far only, trip to the Super Bowl. While the Titans had a great offense centered around quarterback Steve McNair and running back Eddie George, the NFL could not get enough of the Titans’ star rookie defensive lineman.

Kearse set an NFL record for most quarterback sacks by a rookie with 14.5 in 1999. He would make his first of three-straight trips to the Pro Bowl, win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and be named First-Team All-Pro. Had the Titans beaten the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIX, you could not have asked for a better rookie year than what Kearse had in 1999.

In addition to leading the league with eight forced fumbles that season, he also had 15 tackles for a loss of yardage. Kearse backed up that record-setting rookie campaign with two more Pro Bowl seasons where he head at least 10.0 quarterback sacks. It seemed that Kearse was going to be a lock for Canton.

Then, the injuries started to happened. Kearse suffered a broken bone in his foot in 2002 and missed 12 games that season. While he bounced back with 9.5 quarterback sacks in 2003, he missed the final two games of the season with an ankle injury. Ultimately, injury concerns were a huge reason that the Titans were unable to bring him back to the fold on a second contract.

Kearse would sign a massive deal with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 NFL free agency. While he got back to the Super Bowl in his first season in Philadelphia, Kearse would suffer another defeat in the NFL’s signature game, falling to the New England Patriots down in Jacksonville.

Kearse was a good, but not great player during his time with the Eagles and for the rest of his career. He eventually came back to the Titans in 2008, but was a shell of himself. Kearse totaled just 4.5 quarterback sacks in his last two seasons in the NFL with the Titans before retiring after the 2009 campaign. Overall, he had 52.0 of his 74.0 career quarterback sacks with the Titans franchise spread out over seven years and two stints with the team.