NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We Stand For.
For Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan, it’s education equity, or the quality of education regardless of your zip code.
For Titans cornerback Logan Ryan, it’s promoting adoption and offering grants and educational opportunities to better the lives of animals.
For Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, it’s social injustice reform, and leveling the playing field for people in need.
For Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard, it’s youth empowerment.
For Titans general manager Jon Robinson, it’s a world without diabetes.
The list of causes dear to the hearts of the Tennessee Titans is a long one, and the organization’s “We Stand For” campaign is designed to bring the public’s attention to the causes that are important to the team's players, coaches and executives.
The hope is it will lead to positive changes.
“I think most people in society look at us as these big gladiators, these football players, whether we are scoring touchdowns, or tackling and sacking the quarterback. But we are individuals as well,” said Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo, whose cause is social justice. “And we have issues that need to be dealt with, need to be discussed. We have a team full of people with different backgrounds, but at the end of the day, we are all coming together for the ultimate goal, and that is to be successful as a unit and bring a togetherness.”
The “We Stand For” campaign has been months in the making.
(Visit TitansOnline.com/WeStandFor to learn more.)
Tina Tuggle, Director of Community Relations for the Titans, said the campaign is designed to focus on positive ways to impact the Nashville community, and beyond. While the platform promotes social justice-related issues, it also promotes issues that affect society as a whole.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel’s cause is equal access for educational opportunities. Titans tight end Delanie Walker, who has been active in bringing awareness to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is promoting ways to improve public education. A large number of players, coaches and executives plan to participate, including controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk. More causes will be made public in the coming weeks.
As part of the campaign, the participants will share testimonials in written pieces and in videos, providing a unique perspective on their lives, dating back to their childhood experiences, and how they want to make a difference in the community. A Public Service Announcement will air on the Nissan Stadium video boards during games.
“I am very pleased we are having the platform to stand up and express concerns for the community and what I feel like I want to change as a person and as a player,” Woodyard said. “Our ownership and community relations are on the same page, and have a vision for improving the community. It is a great way to bring awareness to what we believe in.”
Ryan said he hopes the campaign will allow fans an opportunity to see the players from a different perspective.
“It allows players the platform and the message to be heard, whatever you might stand for,” Ryan said. “They are allowing me the platform to tell people what I do in the community in Nashville with animals, and rescuing and raising money for those causes. I just think it gives me the platform to be seen as being more than just a football player… I am doing more than just football here. I am in the community as a father.
“I am trying to use it as an opportunity to tell people I stand for more than just football. That’s social injustice, that’s community work, that’s inner-city youth, that’s education, that’s many things.”
Added Morgan: “This is what we stand for, this is what we are passionate about, these are what we donate our time to outside of football. … We are human beings, and I think it is an opportunity to show who we are outside the game.”
Tuggle said the campaign has been a group effort, starting with Amy Adams Strunk, who has been involved in the process from the beginning. Several players said Strunk’s commitment has meant a lot.
“This would not be successful if all entities of the organization did not come together and see that this was a way we could make a difference in our community,” Tuggle said. “So we had initial buy-in from the ownership group. Amy was amazing, Kenneth was amazing, and the executive staff was amazing. (President and CEO) Steve (Underwood), (Senior Vice President) Stuart (Spears), Jon and Mike were all supportive from day one. And then the players’ ability to see through it and understand it and wanting to be a part of it.
“I think collectively, having all of those groups say: ‘This is a way we can impact our community.’ And the hope is we are successful enough, impacting our community in a positive way, that this is something other clubs, and potentially the league as a whole, could adopt one day.”
The hope of the campaign is to foster positive dialogue around the community work of players and executives while raising awareness for the associated causes.
In addition, the club will match the charitable contributions of players up to $250,000.
Casey said the support from the ownership group, from Strunk to Kenneth Adams to Barclay Adams, has made a big impact in the minds of players.
“It shows the organization and the people in this building, we are continuing to spread awareness about the things that we care about, and we are able to use our platform in a stronger, more powerful area now,” Casey said. “Being able to let us spread the word about things we care daily about, it’s huge.”
Ryan said the team is united, and players supports one another.
And they’re hoping for support from those in the community.
“I know we put a helmet on and we are trying to put on a great show for our fans and trying to win championships, but it is bigger than that sometimes," Ryan said. "Just because I put a helmet on I don’t want it to limit me in what I do in life.
“It’s great to know the team is behind you with whatever you stand for, and we all stand together.