NASHVILLE – Growing up in the small town of Brent, Alabama, Ben Jones loved being outdoors.
The Titans center has spent many offseasons Quail hunting with his grandfather.
On Friday, Jones took his teammates into his world during the third annual Ben Jones Celebrity Clay shoot, an event that benefits area nonprofits dedicated to enriching the lives of at-risk youth.
Roughly 20 of his Titans teammates turned out for the shooting tournament at the Nashville Gun Club, including coach Mike Vrabel and General Manager Jon Robinson.
“It’s something different for my teammates to come out to,” Jones said. “Instead of doing a dinner or a golf tournament, I wanted to do something special for them, to give them an opportunity that not every person has. It’s just something different, and the guys have been amazing – they always come out and support me, and I can’t thank those guys enough.”
Cornerback Logan Ryan was there, outfitted in a throwback Oilers uniform of Earl Campbell.
It was Ryan’s first time out, but he hit the flying targets on back-to-back shots on one of his first stops on the course.
Ryan said the event is a continued effort for players to support one another. A night earlier, he was at a fundraising event for defensive lineman Jurrell Casey.
“When your best players, your most known players, are so conscious about giving back on our off days, I think it just shows good leadership on the team,” Ryan said. “I just think Jon Robinson has built a good nucleus of guys that are not only good players, but good family men who are good in the community. And Ben is definitely one of those guys.”
Tight end Delanie Walker brought his own gun.
It turns out he’s a pretty good shot.
“I am not going to say I’m the best, but I hold my own when I’m out there,” a smiling Walker said of his marksmanship. “My team doesn’t have to worry about me – you can count on that.”
Walker said the fundraising event fits Jones perfectly because of his hunting background, and he said the players love it. Each Titans player is on a team with sponsors and others who signed up for the event.
“All the guys here are really excited to come here and support Ben and be a part of something special,” left tackle Taylor Lewan said. “It’s not a surprise (it’s here) – the guy grew up in the South and spent his whole life on a cow farm pretty much. Things like this are a fun time. A lot of guys do golf charities and things like that, but this is a cool opportunity just outside Nashville to … get people from all walks of life to have a little fun.”
Jones stayed at one location on the course, and chatted with teammates and others as they made their way from station to station.
As part of his charity, the Jones Mission, Jones said he and his wife, Alex, want to give kids a better opportunity to succeed in life.
The Jones Mission provides at-risk youth with opportunities they might otherwise not have through grants, additional resources, and educational opportunities.
“Every kid might need just a little more, and if we are able to give them that opportunity we are happy to do it,” Jones said. “It’s just what we can do for this community, and that’s my passion. When I am not working for the Titans in football, I want to be able to impact kids’ lives.”