Titans Hit Streets of Nashville to Help Neighbors Affected by Devastating Tornado

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NASHVILLE – The Titans loaded into buses at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Friday morning, and headed in the same direction as Nissan Stadium.

But on this day, their destination wasn't a football stadium.

Instead, it was the North Nashville neighborhoods ravaged by the deadly tornado earlier this week, where many of their neighbors were displaced, and had their lives changed forever.

On these streets, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel drove a truck full of water and supplies to those in need, general manager Jon Robinson standing on the vehicle's side running board, and Kenneth Adams IV from the ownership group crowded with other members of the organization in the bed of the white Nissan Titan.

On these streets, safety Kevin Byard stepped onto the porches and chatted with the homeowners without power, their homes severely damaged, with roofs covered by tarps. Some of the homes were completely gone.

On these streets, Titans players went to work, cutting down trees and stacking up piles of brush.

On these streets, Titans receiver A.J. Brown delivered pizzas to hungry Nashvillians. Earlier in the week, Brown experienced the storm himself while with terrified family members in his Germantown residence not far away. Brown is still without power, but he considers himself lucky.

"Your heart really goes out to the people affected," Brown said. "My heart goes out to these families."

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On Tuesday morning, tornadoes ripped across Nashville and areas to the East. At least 25 people were killed across the state, including two in Nashville.

The Titans partnered with Hands on Nashville to encourage volunteer efforts. Titans players, staff and their families volunteered on Friday, starting off just down the road from the team's facility. Later in the day, some in the organization traveled to Hermitage, another area hit by the storm, to drop off supplies.

Earlier this week, the Titans Foundation and controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk made a donation of $1 million to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) following the devastation of the EF-3 tornado that swept through Nashville and surrounding areas early Tuesday morning.

"(The coaches and players), they went to work," said Tina Tuggle, Senior Director of Community Relations. "They didn't go out there as Tennessee Titans, they went out there as members of the community who wanted to do their part while making a difference in restoring and beginning the process of rebuilding, and that was awesome to see.

"This is our community, and we want to help."

"It's people helping each other," Vrabel said. "We are just a small part of a large community that's trying to help people wherever we can."

Titans players, coaches, staff and their families hit the streets of North Nashville to help those impacted by the deadly tornado. (Photos: Donald Page)

In Nashville, the twister's path was mostly north and east of the heart of downtown, hitting areas in Bordeaux and North Nashville. Germantown and East Nashville took a direct hit, along with Donelson and Hermitage. Tennessee State University suffered major damage, along with Donelson Christian Academy.

The storm then devastated areas in Mount Juliet before eventually making its way to Putnam County, where the largest death tolls were recorded. Titans defensive lineman Austin Johnson's Hermitage home suffered major damage.

The devastation in North Nashville was eye-opening, players said.

"It is incredible (to see)," Byard said. "It is like being in a movie a little bit. You see one house on this side of the street that is completely fine, and one that is not there anymore. So to see these type of things, I have only seen it on CNN. To see the destruction … it is incredible.

"It has been truly humbling. It is truly devastating to be honest with you. My condolences to all the people who have been affected. People lost loved ones, they lost homes, they lost businesses. If you actually get out here in the streets and to walk around and talk to some of the people that live in this area, you have no choice but to be moved, emotionally and spiritually."

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Academy Sports + Outdoors and Lowe's donated water, blankets, gloves, tarps and tents that were loaded into the back of Vrabel's truck and transported across the area.

In back yards, players put their gloves on and worked. Some of them brought their own rakes, and shovels.

Harold Love, pastor at Lee Chapel, lives in district. He's also the state representative for District 58.

Standing in the parking lot of his church, Love expressed his appreciation to Vrabel and Robinson, and he also chatted with Byard, thanking him.

"The Titans mean so much to Nashville and Tennessee, so to see them here, says to the residents they are concerned about them and that they are willing to come down and lend a hand and get their lives back together," Love said. "It is a blessing. You cannot put a measure on how significant that was today. We are really grateful."

Robinson, who was born and raised in West Tennessee, said the team was happy to help any way it could.

He called the scene "gut-wrenching."

"We want to try and bring them a little bit of hope, try and get them some supplies, and try and lend a hand wherever we can for this community, for this city, and the great people that live in it," Robinson said.

"That's what Tennessee is all about, right? We're the Volunteer state, we are family, we are here for each other. Growing up rural West Tennessee, the devastation in the city is brutal, but I can only imagine out in Putnam County, similar to an area where I grew up, where it is rural and you don't have a whole lot of notice … out thoughts and prayers go out to everybody affected by the storm."

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