Week 17 (1.19.11)

Well, I’m not a Baltimore Ravens fan,

but I was hoping to see Billy Cundiff make it to the Super Bowl this year since I was the first alternate for the Pro Bowl behind him. Unfortunately, they lost, and I’ll have to wait another year to see the sandy beaches in Hawaii between practices. Next year, I’m going to give my fans more encouragement to vote. I need more of your support to get back over to the islands! Being alternate is great and all, but the past three years of it is too much! Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections are my personal goals every year, and I’m striving to be better next year. I shouldn’t have missed that one kick in the Denver game anyway!

Congratulations to our three Pro Bowlers from the Tennessee Titans. All of them certainly deserve of the title this year! Jason Babin was among the top in the league in quarterback sacks. After several years and a few different teams, he finally found a defensive system that displayed his talents and strength. I sure hope we sign him to a long-term deal. He’ll be making his first trip to Hawaii, a state he decided years ago to only visit if he were invited. I’m glad to see him making the flight. Rookie (7th round draft pick) Marc Mariani had a standout season returning punts and kickoffs. This year, he returned one of each for a touchdown and ranked among the top of all AFC special team returners. I hope he gets some reps at wide receiver next year because he’s got great hands and could be a great attribute to our offense. Originally voted as the first alternate, Chris Johnson is going to make the trip after all. The Jaguars’ running back Maurice Jones-Drew opted out of the game to get knee surgery. CJ2K will go for the third time, and he deserves it after ranking in the top 3 for yards gained and touchdowns scored. The Titans have a few other player listed as alternates, and I hope they get the opportunity to represent our team and the AFC in the 2011 Pro Bowl!

Week 17 at the Colts was no more than a game of pride for us as a team. We were criticized this year for lying down and giving up numerous times, but that was never the case. Sometimes what happens on the field just can’t be explained – a bad play here and there, dropped passes, missed tackles, turnovers, mistakes and inability to take advantage of opportunities was more the case than anybody just giving up. We have got to do better! We went into the Indy game with a point to prove. We came up short on the scoreboard, but we showed our courage and desire to win for all those doubters writing the columns. We went out there to play football, and we played pretty well.

Personally, I feel like I had a great season. It was one of my best since joining the Titans six years ago. I made 23/25 field goals and had a string of 20 in a row. Of the two keeping me from perfection, I should have made the one kick I missed, and I don’t really count the last field goal from 61 yards. It was just too far, and I didn’t have the odds on my side. When Fisher sends me out there, I try my best to get it there and put it between the uprights.

Looks like it’s time to rest, relax and heal up again this off season. I plan to get plenty of rest early, take some vacation time, probably find a beach and some sun, visit my family and then get back into it. I want to be in better shape, be stronger and have quicker leg speed next season, whenever that may be. I just want to be sure I’m ready to go when the news breaks that the lockout is over and it’s time to get back to work! All that being said, of course, pending the possibility of the possible lockout that sources are predicting to occur in early March.

I’m hoping this whole lockout thing gets resolved sooner than later between the owners and our players union. The NFL teams’ support staff, athletic trainers, stadium employees, etc. will be at the greatest loss. The players will also be denied the right to work as well. For day-to-day updates and accurate information, go to www.NFLPlayers.com, and visit www.NFLLockout.com to sign the “Block the Lockout” petition.

Just before Christmas, I was able to get away from all the football meetings and practice to join Governor Phil Bredesen and visit with about 20 Make-A-Wish children at our Capital building in downtown Nashville. It wasn’t just any visit, the kids, the Governor and myself were all there to see Santa Claus and deliver our wish lists to Macy’s Santa during his stop in Nashville before returning to the North Pole. It was a special moment to get to share that time with the kids as each of them told Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Macy’s is a proud partner of Make-A-Wish and donates $1 for every letter Santa receives in their mailbox. I know those letters all made it to the North Pole, and the wishes were brought to reality on Christmas Day. The money raised will go a long way to helping grant many Make-A-Wish kids’ dreams. It’s always a great feeling when you can give back to the community. For me, it’s even more special when you can brighten and better a child’s life, whatever the situation may be.

Since the season has ended, I also had the chance to visit with our new Governor, Bill Haslam. During his Inauguration weekend this past week, I attended the “All Together Now” concert Friday night, which was headlined by Sara Evans, Diamond Rio and Bo Bice. It was a great show – up close and personal, full of good tunes and good times. I got a chance to congratulate Governor Haslam on his recent election during the stage change between acts. I know he’s going to pick right up and continue making Tennessee an even greater state and place to call home. I also attended my first swearing in of a Governor the next morning outside Capital Hill. It was a chilly morning in January, but it was bearable. It was something I was proud to be part of.

After it was over, I got a chance to meet the lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys, who already felt he knew me because my mom had met him a couple times prior. My mom has been known to brag a little about her son that kicks for the Titans. Love you Mom! I got to shake Governor Bredesen’s hand one more time before he left Capital Hill. He has done such a great job during his time in office, and I just wanted to thank him for all his hard work over the years. After all, he is a big reason the Titans call Nashville home, and I probably wouldn’t be here had he not pushed for the Oilers to relocate in this great city.

Now, it’s back to my off-season and time to get some rest, relaxation and hopefully some sunshine. I’ll keep you posted so stay tuned.