FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Nancy Nicklin got in line at the Post Exchange at 9 a.m. so she could get in line to see Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Nicklin was holding a No.8 jersey when Mariota walked in at 3 p.m. When she got it signed six hours later, it was mission accomplished. The gift will be a surprise for her husband on the couple’s 40th wedding anniversary next month.
“He’s super humble, down to earth,” Nicklin said of the quarterback. “I’m so happy to get this.”
The Titans were happy to be here, mixing the tune-tone blue with camouflage.
The Titans traveled to Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division, during their annual Titans Caravan Monday. Members of the military and their families welcomed players, general manager Jon Robinson, head coach Mike Vrabel, Titans cheerleaders and T-Rac during the stop.
Over 500 fans turned out.
“We’re happy to be here, supporting the troops and their families,” Robinson said. “These guys go through a lot to serve our country, to protect all the freedoms that we have. So it is awesome to come down here and spend an afternoon visiting with them, signing autographs, and getting to know them and giving back to those guys.”
Soldiers decked out in camouflage stood in line, and so did family members.
“It is really important for us to recognize how close we are to Fort Campbell,” Vrabel said, “and to recognize the sacrifices a lot of these families make when their mom or dad are serving our country, and anything we can do to help them, say hello, and thank them for their service and be grateful for what they do for us is something we are always going to do.
“We are up here to show them how much we appreciate them.”
In addition to Mariota, kicker Ryan Succop and linebacker Nate Palmer met members of the military and their families during the stop. They posed for pictures, signed autographs and shook hands with fans.
The Caravan stop was at the Fort Campbell Post Exchange, which is open to active duty or retirees and families.
Mariota, stationed at the front of the line, signed everything from helmets to jerseys to posters to a life-size cardboard cut-out of himself. He took selfies with fans, and posed for pictures with babies.
Similar scenes played out going down the line.
Vrabel arm-wrestled with a young fan.
The Titans spent over two hours at Fort Campbell before moving on to another stop at the Clarksville Academy Sports + Outdoors.
“I am excited for the opportunity to meet some fans, talk to people who serve our country, and make the ultimate sacrifice. It is truly a privilege to be here and I look forward to it every year,” Mariota said.
“I’ve had family members who’ve served. Military has been a part of my family for quite some time. It means a lot to us, and I understand the sacrifice and what they do for us as a country. The little that we can do to give back just to say thank you. It is an awesome opportunity and I look forward to it.”
Jon Robinson, Mike Vrabel, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Succop, and Nate Palmer headline Day 3 of the 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan in Fort Campbell and Clarksville. (Photos: Susanna Nickell, Nate Bain)