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David Thornton
OLB #50
Height:
6-2
Weight:
233
College:
North Carolina
Experience:
9

Biography

PRO: David Thornton enters his ninth NFL season determined to overcome the physical adversities he faced in 2009.  If dedication and professionalism can affect the outcome, the former walk-on at North Carolina could very well resume his role as the team’s starting left outside linebacker in his fifth season in Tennessee. A sideline-to-sideline defender who penetrates gaps with tremendous speed, Thornton was remarkably durable during his career prior to 2009, missing just two career games in eight seasons.  Equally well-respected on and off the gridiron, he was named the team’s 2007 Ed Block Courage Award winner, given to a player on each team who best embodies the principles of sportsmanship and courage.  Then, in 2008, he was voted the club’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, a distinction he earned two times with his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts.  Thornton, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent in 2006, has been a member of six playoff squads in eight professional seasons, including each of his seasons with the Colts (2002-05) and two of his four Titans campaigns.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
• In Tennessee’s 2007 playoff season, Thornton led the team with 140 tackles, the second-highest total of career.  He also paced the squad with nine tackles for loss and matched his career high with two interceptions in 2007.
• In 2006, Thornton was one of three unrestricted free agent signees by the Titans that helped reverse the team’s sub-.500 fortunes from the previous two seasons, joining center Kevin Mawae and safety Chris Hope.  In his first season with the Titans, Thornton appeared in every game and delivered 122 tackles.   
• Thornton’s first season as a starter was 2003, when he led the Colts with a career-high 158 tackles. 
• In four aseasons with the Colts (2002-05), he totaled 394 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions in 63 regular season games.
• On Oct. 6, 2003 at Tampa Bay, he established his career high with 18 tackles. 

TITANS TIDBITS: 
• The team’s 2009 United Way spokesperson has an impressive history of giving back to the community.  In 2008, Thornton was named his team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for the third time in his career and the first time with the Titans.  In Indianapolis, he won the award twice.  He has been nominated for the NFL Player’s Association’s highest honor, the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, four times during his career – once with the Colts (2005) and three times with the Titans (2006-08).  The award recognizes a player’s service to his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White, the late NFL running back and Supreme Court Justice.  Also in 2008, he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his outstanding commitment to the health and wellness of America’s youth, given to him on behalf of President George W. Bush by Michael W. Smith, vice-chair on the President’s Council.  He also was named one of the NFL Players Association JB Award winners for his service to the community.
• Upon his arrival in Tennessee, he partnered with Genesco Inc. and the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville to continue his “Cold Feet, Warm Shoes” program, an effort he started while in Indianapolis.  Also through the Martha O’Bryan Center, he has provided Thanksgiving meals to needy families.  At Christmas time, Thornton has partnered with Dick’s Sporting Goods in Nashville to host an essay contest and shopping spree for local at-risk youth.  In addition, he annually sponsors Christmas gifts for teens in need in his hometown of Goldsboro, NC.  He’s hosted a youth football camp in Nashville, appeared in a public service announcement for the LP Pencil Box Foundation, traveled through East Tennessee making appearances for the Titans Caravan, partnered with United Way and the Boys & Girls Club for the Titans Hometown Huddle, and made several more appearances at charitable events organized by the team and its individual players.
• Thornton was voted by his teammates in 2007 as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient, presented to a player on each NFL team who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.  In addition to his extensive charitable work, Thornton was singled out for his commitment during the 2006 season, when he played every game despite suffering a torn rotator cuff.  After surgery in January 2007 to repair the injury, he underwent an extensive five-month rehabilitation process before returning to full strength and leading the team in tackles the following campaign.
• Thornton has served on the NFL Player Advisory Council, a small group of players selected to communicate with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on issues that affect the league’s players.
• Thornton is a three-time participant in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, which assists players in preparing for their post-playing careers.  He traveled to Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2006 and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2008. 
• As busy as life in the NFL may be, Thornton may have had a tougher schedule in high school.  In addition to being an All-Conference football player at Goldsboro (N.C.) High School, he was the student body president, the school’s National Honor Society president and the drum major of the marching band, all while maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average.
• Thornton maintains close ties with the community in which he was raised.  He hosts an annual youth football camp at his former high school in Goldsboro, N.C.  He also has funded a scholarship program for students at Goldsboro High, made a contribution to fund new uniforms for its football team, sponsored new youth football equipment at the local Boys and Girls Clubs and has made numerous visits to Goldsboro area elementary and middle schools to speak with students. 

CAREER TRANSACTIONS:
• The Goldsboro, N.C., native was originally selected by the Colts in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. 
• Signed by the Titans as an unrestricted free agent on March 13, 2006.
 
COLLEGE:
• Former walk-on started 11 of 32 games for Tar Heels, with all starts coming at left outside linebacker as senior.  Totaled 155 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven quarterback pressures, one interception and five passes defensed during career.
• As senior, led team with 131 tackles, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss, five passes defensed, six quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and one interception.  Named team MVP, selected to Super Sleeper Team and earned second-team All-ACC honors from league’s coaches. 
• Played 11 games as reserve as junior, primarily on special teams. Had 16 tackles, eight solo, with one quarterback pressure.
• Played 10 games as sophomore, mainly on special teams, and tallied eight solo tackles.
• Joined team as walk-on freshman but did not play.
• Received degree in exercise science in December 2001.

PERSONAL: 
• Single, splits time between Nashville and Goldsboro, N.C.
• Has one daughter, Qieara (13).
• Played four years at quarterback and safety at Goldsboro (N.C.) High School.  Named all-conference as senior.
• Also played four years as pitcher on baseball team and four years at point guard for basketball team. 
• Was drum major of high school marching band, student body president, president of the school’s National Honor Society, a North Carolina Scholar, an honors graduate and two-time graduation marshal. 
• List of favorites: (TV show) “The Cosby Show”; (actor) Denzel Washington; (school subject) math; (book) the Bible; (music) Gospel; (food) his mother’s fried chicken; (sports hero) David Robinson.
• Born David Dontay Thornton on Nov. 1, 1978 in Goldsboro, N.C.

PRO: David Thornton enters his ninth NFL season determined to overcome the physical adversities he faced in 2009.  If dedication and professionalism can affect the outcome, the former walk-on at North Carolina could very well resume his role as the team’s starting left outside linebacker in his fifth season in Tennessee. A sideline-to-sideline defender who penetrates gaps with tremendous speed, Thornton was remarkably durable during his career prior to 2009, missing just two career games in eight seasons.  Equally well-respected on and off the gridiron, he was named the team’s 2007 Ed Block Courage Award winner, given to a player on each team who best embodies the principles of sportsmanship and courage.  Then, in 2008, he was voted the club’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, a distinction he earned two times with his previous team, the Indianapolis Colts.  Thornton, who signed with the Titans as an unrestricted free agent in 2006, has been a member of six playoff squads in eight professional seasons, including each of his seasons with the Colts (2002-05) and two of his four Titans campaigns.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
• In Tennessee’s 2007 playoff season, Thornton led the team with 140 tackles, the second-highest total of career.  He also paced the squad with nine tackles for loss and matched his career high with two interceptions in 2007.
• In 2006, Thornton was one of three unrestricted free agent signees by the Titans that helped reverse the team’s sub-.500 fortunes from the previous two seasons, joining center Kevin Mawae and safety Chris Hope.  In his first season with the Titans, Thornton appeared in every game and delivered 122 tackles.   
• Thornton’s first season as a starter was 2003, when he led the Colts with a career-high 158 tackles. 
• In four aseasons with the Colts (2002-05), he totaled 394 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles and three interceptions in 63 regular season games.
• On Oct. 6, 2003 at Tampa Bay, he established his career high with 18 tackles. 

TITANS TIDBITS: 
• The team’s 2009 United Way spokesperson has an impressive history of giving back to the community.  In 2008, Thornton was named his team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for the third time in his career and the first time with the Titans.  In Indianapolis, he won the award twice.  He has been nominated for the NFL Player’s Association’s highest honor, the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, four times during his career – once with the Colts (2005) and three times with the Titans (2006-08).  The award recognizes a player’s service to his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White, the late NFL running back and Supreme Court Justice.  Also in 2008, he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his outstanding commitment to the health and wellness of America’s youth, given to him on behalf of President George W. Bush by Michael W. Smith, vice-chair on the President’s Council.  He also was named one of the NFL Players Association JB Award winners for his service to the community.
• Upon his arrival in Tennessee, he partnered with Genesco Inc. and the Martha O’Bryan Center in Nashville to continue his “Cold Feet, Warm Shoes” program, an effort he started while in Indianapolis.  Also through the Martha O’Bryan Center, he has provided Thanksgiving meals to needy families.  At Christmas time, Thornton has partnered with Dick’s Sporting Goods in Nashville to host an essay contest and shopping spree for local at-risk youth.  In addition, he annually sponsors Christmas gifts for teens in need in his hometown of Goldsboro, NC.  He’s hosted a youth football camp in Nashville, appeared in a public service announcement for the LP Pencil Box Foundation, traveled through East Tennessee making appearances for the Titans Caravan, partnered with United Way and the Boys & Girls Club for the Titans Hometown Huddle, and made several more appearances at charitable events organized by the team and its individual players.
• Thornton was voted by his teammates in 2007 as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award recipient, presented to a player on each NFL team who exemplifies a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage.  In addition to his extensive charitable work, Thornton was singled out for his commitment during the 2006 season, when he played every game despite suffering a torn rotator cuff.  After surgery in January 2007 to repair the injury, he underwent an extensive five-month rehabilitation process before returning to full strength and leading the team in tackles the following campaign.
• Thornton has served on the NFL Player Advisory Council, a small group of players selected to communicate with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on issues that affect the league’s players.
• Thornton is a three-time participant in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program, which assists players in preparing for their post-playing careers.  He traveled to Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2005, Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2006 and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2008. 
• As busy as life in the NFL may be, Thornton may have had a tougher schedule in high school.  In addition to being an All-Conference football player at Goldsboro (N.C.) High School, he was the student body president, the school’s National Honor Society president and the drum major of the marching band, all while maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average.
• Thornton maintains close ties with the community in which he was raised.  He hosts an annual youth football camp at his former high school in Goldsboro, N.C.  He also has funded a scholarship program for students at Goldsboro High, made a contribution to fund new uniforms for its football team, sponsored new youth football equipment at the local Boys and Girls Clubs and has made numerous visits to Goldsboro area elementary and middle schools to speak with students. 

CAREER TRANSACTIONS:
• The Goldsboro, N.C., native was originally selected by the Colts in the fourth round (106th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. 
• Signed by the Titans as an unrestricted free agent on March 13, 2006.
 
COLLEGE:
• Former walk-on started 11 of 32 games for Tar Heels, with all starts coming at left outside linebacker as senior.  Totaled 155 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, seven quarterback pressures, one interception and five passes defensed during career.
• As senior, led team with 131 tackles, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss, five passes defensed, six quarterback pressures, one forced fumble and one interception.  Named team MVP, selected to Super Sleeper Team and earned second-team All-ACC honors from league’s coaches. 
• Played 11 games as reserve as junior, primarily on special teams. Had 16 tackles, eight solo, with one quarterback pressure.
• Played 10 games as sophomore, mainly on special teams, and tallied eight solo tackles.
• Joined team as walk-on freshman but did not play.
• Received degree in exercise science in December 2001.

PERSONAL: 
• Single, splits time between Nashville and Goldsboro, N.C.
• Has one daughter, Qieara (13).
• Played four years at quarterback and safety at Goldsboro (N.C.) High School.  Named all-conference as senior.
• Also played four years as pitcher on baseball team and four years at point guard for basketball team. 
• Was drum major of high school marching band, student body president, president of the school’s National Honor Society, a North Carolina Scholar, an honors graduate and two-time graduation marshal. 
• List of favorites: (TV show) “The Cosby Show”; (actor) Denzel Washington; (school subject) math; (book) the Bible; (music) Gospel; (food) his mother’s fried chicken; (sports hero) David Robinson.
• Born David Dontay Thornton on Nov. 1, 1978 in Goldsboro, N.C.

Defensive
YearTeamGTotalSoloAstSckSFTYPDefIntTDsYdsAvgLng
TOTAL 121 728 560 168 5 0 22 5 0 24 -- 11
2010 TEN 0 0 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2009 TEN 11 59 46 13 1 -- 0 -- -- -- -- --
2008 TEN 15 78 60 18 0 -- 6 -- -- -- -- --
2007 TEN 16 122 93 29 1 -- 6 2 0 16 8 11
2006 TEN 16 107 85 22 0 -- 5 -- -- -- -- --
2005 IND 16 81 59 22 2 -- 1 -- -- -- -- --
2004 IND 16 92 69 23 0 -- 0 1 0 5 5 5
2003 IND 16 145 112 33 1 -- 3 2 0 3 1.5 2
2002 IND 15 44 36 8 0 -- 1 -- -- -- -- --

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