One of the most exciting position battles coming out of the Tennessee Titans training camp has just come to an end.
The Tennessee Titans have named Ryan Stonehouse the starting punter. That means that on Monday, August 29th, 2022, Brett Kern lost his position battle to the rookie punter.
This is a bitter-sweet moment because while Stonehouse has demonstrated his extraordinary ability as a punter, it means we also have to say goodbye to a Titans legend in Brett Kern.
On a personal note, I am also a passionate kicker of balls like Kern and Stonehouse. While my specialty was always soccer, I took a few hacks at footballs while in high school and college, so I feel like I can speak to the pigskin punting with an adequate perspective and passion to convey what a critical inflection point the Titans are at now for this niche specialty.
Folks, when Ryan Stonehouse, who moonlights with NASA launching low earth satellites into space, put his hoof through that ball on his 68-yard punt against the Buccaneers, I swear I heard him thwack that thing all the way in Memphis.
As well as having a leg injected with Red Bull, as one ESPN commentator speculated, Stonehouse demonstrated that he also has elite control over the ball pinning the Cardinals inside the 10-yard line on one of his attempts in the preseason finale, ultimately sealing his spot on the roster.
I can’t help but feel guilty enjoying watching Stonehouse pound a ball out of the stadium since Brett Kern has been a staple in the Tennessee team for nearly as long as I have been a fan.
Brett Kern was the longest-tenured player on the Titans roster and it’s not even close, he has been with the team since 2009. In that time, many things changed, but one thing remained the same for the Tennessee Titans: Brett Kern.
The most valuable leg, the coffin corner king, the longtime king of the punt in Nashville.
The battle for Tennessee’s punter was so rare that since the last time there was a serious question about who would be our starter there has been a new Pope, Great Britain left the European Union, there was a solar eclipse, and the pandemic people were worried about was Ebola, not COVID.
Brett Kern’s career with the Tennessee Titans by the numbers
Kern is the all-time leader in punts for the Tennessee Titans and he was just short of making it to quadruple digits, at 996. A seemingly benign and often overlooked statistic in football, but a stat that is truly meaningful because it quantifies Kern’s faithful service to the team and to the city.
Let’s think about that for a second, Nine-Hundred and Ninety-Six!
For the uninitiated in the punting arts, this number could mean nearly 1000 failed drives (and if you watch the Titans in the early 2010s you may think this number must be low), but another way to think about it is how many times Kern trotted that multi-million-dollar right leg out on the field to kill the hopes of would-be offenses across the league.
(5) Coming on board at the end of the Jeff Fisher era means Kern has been around for every single coach the Titans have had while in Nashville: Jeff Fisher, Mike Munchak, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Mularkey, and Mike Vrabel.
(3) The number of times Kern was named to the Pro Bowl as Titan.
In addition to being one of the best punters in the league, Kern has been a prominent figure in the community, helping Tennesseans in countless food drives, 5ks, and kicking clinics inspiring the next generation of punters and kickers in the area.
Kern has embodied the true meaning of the Titan spirit of volunteerism and kindness helping remind us how to be excellent on and off the field.
And while it is hard to imagine Brett Kern in another uniform he is without a doubt still a top-16 punter in the NFL with his lethal directional accuracy that helped to end Tom Brady’s tenure in New England in our 2019 playoff run.
Kern has helped the Titans win so many other games with that special leg of his. His impact, while often overlooked as punters often are, was one that was truly special to me and so many other fans, especially within the kicking community.
So, from the bottom of our hearts, we want to thank Brett for an extraordinary and legendary career in Tennessee that will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Brett!