Farewell to Rob Bironas No. 2

We Tennessee Titans fans got used to having Rob Bironas around.

He played for the Titans for nine seasons, from 2005 to 2013, becoming the second-highest scorer in team history. He had 11 game-winning field goals, a team record.

In 2006, he took down Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts with a 60-yard field goal. In 2007, he set a record for most field goals in a game, kicking eight against the Houston Texans. He was the fourth most-accurate kicker of field goals in NFL history. He didn’t make them all, but with Bironas on the sidelines, Titans fans felt the team had a chance to win as long as the offense could get past midfield.

So when the Titans released Bironas in March, fans were mightily ticked, even though most of us knew his best days were behind him. We liked believing Bironas could keep us in the game. And we’re not convinced the guys we’ve tried since can do any better.

Bironas died Saturday in a one-car crash on a street I know well, just a few miles away from the house where I spent most of my teenage years. I’ll drive by the site of the crash many times; I imagine I’ll think of him every time I pass.

I never met Bironas, but he left me a voicemail once. He had been scheduled to read at my daughters’ elementary school. Afterwards, I was going to interview him, because I wrote about American Idol and he was a fan of the show. He came down with the flu the day before and had to cancel both his reading appearance and our interview. We never rescheduled, but I kept his message in my system for a long time.

Bironas was known for his involvement in the community, on both small and large levels. A quick look at his Twitter feed in the days leading up to his death shows the depth of his commitment to Nashville. He took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, then challenged Charlie Daniels to do the same. He tweeted about a Red Cross app. His field goals helped raise $64,800 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee.

In 2008, Bironas started The Rob Bironas Fund, designed to raise money for children’s causes. I can’t think of a place I’d rather give today, though I really wish I didn’t have a reason to think of it today.

Sept. 22: The Rob Bironas Fund, via The Community Foundation

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