Statement from Larry Bironas following toxicology results

From Larry Bironas:

“We appreciate the hard work of the local authorities to help us begin to answer the many questions we have had surrounding the death of our son. Today we learned that Rob had been drinking, and got behind the wheel. This is something he didn’t do as a rule. We don’t know why he made that choice this time. Rob made a mistake, and he paid the ultimate price. We appreciate the outpour of support, care and concern showed to us by Rob’s friends, the NFL, and the Nashville community. We appreciate your respect for his mother and me, his siblings, his son, and his wife as we grieve.”

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An Interview with Rob Bironas at the Waiting for Wishes Celebrity Waiter’s Dinner (April 15, 2014)

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The Baffling Death of Rob Bironas (The MMQB – 10.1.14)

NASHVILLE — Patrick Martin woke up to a torrent of text messages and phone calls at 5:30 a.m. Word had spread that one of his friends was in a single-car accident overnight, perhaps the one Martin, the owner of a barbecue restaurant chain, had glimpsed on his way home from the Music City Food and Wine Festival. Police cordoned off the scene, preventing him from seeing the white SUV that had pulverized a line of torso-thick trees before landing upside down in a culvert across the street from his home. They wouldn’t say who, if anybody, had died.

Well before dawn, Martin jumped into his shoes and sprinted down his driveway. His 7-year-old daughter, Daisy, chased after him. They found remnants of the wreck scattered across the road, personal belongings that spilled from the vehicle and had been overlooked in the darkness: a battered pair of sunglasses, a NAPA baseball cap, debit cards and gun-range earplugs. The trail of debris continued down a steep six-foot embankment and into a drainage basin: Buffalo Wild Wings wet wipes, numbing dental cream, scratched-up country music CDs floating in an oil slick, and an ID card issued by the NFL Players Association.

These were the personal effects of Rob Bironas, the former Tennessee Titans kicker who died, at 36, after crashing late at night on Sept. 20.

“I spent an hour cleaning up his stuff,” says Martin, a heavyset goateed man whose eyes watered as he spoke in a cramped office just off his restaurant’s kitchen. “It was so surreal. We had texted on the 18th. It’s just weird.”

Martin is among the many friends and family members who are struggling to reconcile the memory of the man they knew with the final hour of his life. According to a missing person report filed by his wife, Bironas told her “good night” and slipped out of the house without anyone noticing. There appeared to be no telltale symptoms of distress, but reports quickly surfaced that Bironas had threatened other motorists and even tried running a truck full of college kids off the road. On Battery Lane, where Bironas died less than a mile from his home, there were no apparent skid marks.

“Everybody is trying to make sense of why he acted the way he acted, because it’s unbelievable,” Martin says. “And it’s not just one of those things where a buddy dies and you don’t want to believe that’s what he was. We’re not trying to save face for him. That just was absolutely not him.”

Game day with Rob Bironas was always an adventure.

“If you looked up ADD in the dictionary,” former Titans punter Craig Hentrich says, “his picture was in there.”

The energy drinks only made him more frenetic.

“He’d drink those things as if he was going to go hit somebody,” says Titans cornerback Jason McCourty, likening Bironas to the 10 other hyped-up players on the kickoff team. “Rob’s personality didn’t allow him to be your normal kicker. He was a guy who was talking to everybody.”

One of the Titans’ chiropractors, McCourty says, was assigned to occupy Bironas when he wasn’t kicking so he wouldn’t bother everyone else.

“There would be times in the game when he would come ask me about specifics on defense,” McCourty says. “He would have the team photographer take pictures of different people in the crowd for you. After one game he texted me a picture of my wife and daughter in the stands that he asked the photographer to take.

“He was just very confident in himself. The offense would be out there at the end of the half at the 50 and he’s in the coach’s ear like, ‘Let me kick it.’ ”

Bironas had a pregame routine he stuck to every week; he had to visit the field a certain amount of times before kickoff, see a list of specific people, and kick for a certain number of minutes.

“He was OCD for sure,” says Titans punter Brett Kern, who remembers irking Bironas on one road trip.

“I’d go in and brush my teeth,” Kern says, “and he’d be like, ‘You know you only brushed your teeth for 1:25?’ ”

“Rob, are you serious?”

“You’re supposed to brush your teeth for two minutes.”

“Well do you want me to brush my teeth for another 35 seconds?”

“You don’t have to,” Bironas replied. “I’m just saying.”

“He was like that in a lot of areas,” Kern says. “It was stuff that made you laugh.”

As rigorous as he was about routine, he enjoyed throwing off the schedules of others. “He was such a free spirit,” says Hentrich, who was teammates with Bironas for five seasons. “Sometimes I’d be screaming for him to come kick and he’d be off talking to somebody.”

“I’d be looking for him for kickoff,” Titans special teams coach Nate Kaczor says. “He’d just do that to mess with me.”

But when it mattered, Bironas rarely missed an opportunity. Accuracy was his calling card—he was a career 85.7% field goal kicker, the fourth-highest percentage in NFL history. His talent landed him a job in Arena football in 2003 upon leaving Georgia Southern, and the narrow goal posts in the indoor game allowed him to showcase a pro-ready leg. He bounced around lower-level leagues and worked day jobs, including at a Best Buy in New York, until signing with the Titans in ’05. There, he stuck. Bironas played nine seasons with Tennessee, until general manager Ruston Webster and new coach Ken Whisenhunt let him go last spring despite his having made 25 of 29 field goal attempts in 2013.

“If he missed he was like, ‘Oh well, next kick,’ ” Hentrich says. “Pressure didn’t bother him, misses didn’t bother him. That’s what made him great, and that’s why it’s all so frustrating. He’s being portrayed as some kind of madman, and he was the opposite.”

According to the missing person report filed by Bironas’ wife, Rachel Bradshaw—the country singer and daughter of Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw—she was at home watching a movie with a friend when Bironas wished her good night. She thought he went to bed, according to reports, but later searched the house and couldn’t find him. She called his cell phone several times, but he didn’t answer. She called friends, but no one had heard from him. She told police he wasn’t under the influence of any substances, though she’d seen him drink a beer earlier in the evening. Conflicting details have emerged about the timeline. In a 911 call placed at 11:40 p.m., a weeping Bradshaw said Bironas went to bed at 9:40. She later told police 10:30. At 11:01, Bironas wrecked his Denali.

Connor Fraley, a student at nearby Belmont University, told the Tennessean he was in a Ford truck with three friends when they rolled up alongside the white Denali to inform the driver there was a strange smell coming from his exhaust. Contacted by The MMQB, Fraley said he had received more than 30 media requests and wouldn’t be granting any more interviews until the police investigation into Bironas’ death was closed. According to Fraley’s account in the Tennessean, Bironas told him, “I’m going to kill everybody in your [expletive] vehicle.”

“It was so random, so bizarre. I was like, ‘What?’ And he said the exact same thing again,” Fraley told the newspaper. According to the same account, Bironas then chased the truck through a Nashville neighborhood and tried to sideswipe it off the road.

Some of Bironas’ friends have trouble believing Fraley’s story, or believing it’s possible for him to accurately finger Bironas as the driver who threatened him and his friends, given how dark the night was. “Rob was driving a 6.2 liter Denali,” says Joe Grenvicz, Bironas’ best friend and financial manager. “If he wanted to run those kids off the road, he would’ve.”

But another 911 call was made shortly after Bironas crashed, and a woman explained that she and her husband had just experienced a road-rage encounter with the driver. “He is dangerous, he is drunk or something,” the caller said. “He tried to start a fight with us. My husband ran down there to see what is going on. I just want to tell the police there is something wrong with him. He is dangerous, he is drunk or he is on drugs. He gave us a mean look. We don’t even know him, and he tried to run us off the road.”

These accounts baffle Bironas’ family and friends, who have taken comfort in the words of Rob’s father. At the Nashville funeral for his son, Larry Bironas said, “Your friends and family will, over time, cleanse and heal this small snapshot that has tried to overshadow who you are.”

Rob Bironas was known as a source of comic relief during training camps, each year picking out a day to submerge the clothes of rookies in a cold tub while the team was still out practicing. Beyond that, teammates couldn’t recall a time when anyone was ever angry with him. “He would always welcome new guys in,” says Kern, the Titans’ punter since ’09. “He would make them feel welcome, and I think it was more or less to relax them so he could prank them later on. He tried to put a smile on your face regardless of how he had to do it.”

On Monday nights during the season, Bironas would often get together to watch Monday Night Football in his basement with a Vanderbilt doctor, a financier, a recording artist, a pizza storeowner and two or three Titans players. “Rob was so electric that when he was in the room you knew it. And when he was gone you knew it,” Grenvicz says. “He was the glue that kept our group together.”

In 2008 he launched The Rob Bironas Fund, a charity to promote music education in Tennessee schools. He loved music and hanging out with local musicians, always talking up their work to anyone who would listen. When friends were going out of town and needed someone to tend to their house, Rob would raise his hand. One morning a vacationing couple got a call from an incredulous neighbor: Is that Rob Bironas watering your garden?

The Titans released Bironas in March after nine seasons. His field goal numbers passed the eye test, but he missed a few kicks the team thought he would have made in previous years. Whisenhunt’s new coaching staff also wanted to infuse the roster with new blood and, according to a team source, Bironas’ salary cap hit was too high to stomach—though he was never given the option of taking a pay cut.

By chance, McCourty ran into Bironas at a training facility in nearby Franklin late this summer. Bironas had lost about 15 pounds and was still his confident self. “He was saying it’s just crazy how the business works,” McCourty recalls. “He went down a mental list of all his stats compared to all the other kickers and where he ranked. I had no idea what he was talking about but he was passionate.”

Friends say being released bothered Bironas, who was cut 28 points shy of Al Greco’s team scoring record. “It was tough for him. He was struggling a little bit,” Kern says. “He was a goal-setter, and he wouldn’t let anything get in the way of his goals … it wasn’t like his life goal, but it was important.”

Bironas might’ve been on his way back to the NFL. Growing weary of struggling rookie kicker Nate Freese, the Lions called Bironas’ agent, Camron Hahn, and brought the veteran in for a workout on Sept. 16. Bironas told friends he had a great audition and expected to get the job. Hahn had yet to hear either way from Detroit when Bironas died.

“I knew he felt like he could still kick,” Kern says. “He was struggling, but he had a support group—he kept training hard, he lost weight, he put a turf patch in his back yard and a net to kick in. He had bounced back and was ready for an opportunity.”

As much as Bironas had a support group to lean on, he was also there for his 8-year-old son from a previous relationship. The boy lives in New Jersey with his mother, and Bironas was trying to arrange for the child to spend more time in Louisville, a three-hour drive from Nashville, where the rest of Bironas’ family lives. “Rob was always showing us his [son’s] soccer and MMA videos,” Martin says. “He was stupid proud of him.”

Bironas flew his son out to Nashville when their schedules allowed, and he’d sometimes fly back to New Jersey with him so he didn’t have to travel alone. At the funeral, the boy went down the front row and hugged each of Bironas’ family members. Martin gave the boy’s mother the NFLPA card from the side of the road so he could have it when he grows up.

But will time yield any answers?

The missing person report says there had been no argument between Bironas and Rachel Bradshaw, an account that rings true to those who knew them. The couple met in 2012 on a Saturday night before a Titans home game. Beaming, Bironas returned to the team hotel and breathlessly told Kern, “I just met the woman I’m going to marry.” He and Rachel dated for two years before tying the knot in June. At least one of the oil-slicked CDs that Patrick Martin found the morning after the crash featured the music of Rachel Bradshaw.

Matt Hasselbeck, the former Titans quarterback and current backup in Indianapolis, immediately thought of alcohol when he heard of Bironas’ death. Then he started talking around and realized Bironas wasn’t the “weekend warrior” he had been in 2011.

“When I was there, Rob liked to have a good time,” Hasselbeck says. “Alcohol was part of his regular weekend routine, and that can be a dangerous thing. But I heard through mutual friends that he really cleaned up that part of his life. He got married. This is a guy who I knew to live on the edge, was over-caffeinated all the time, pushed the limit on weekends. But all of a sudden when he cleans up, this tragedy happens.”

None of the 10 friends interviewed by The MMQB suggested that Bironas had an alcohol problem. He drank, they said, but rarely in excess and always used a designated driver. Bironas’ father told the Tennessean on Tuesday that his son didn’t do drugs. “He was very anti-drugs, stimulants, that kind of thing,” Larry Bironas said. “It almost comes across as a psychotic problem; if there was a problem, of course we’re interested in it. If he got in that car and drove inebriated, of course I have a problem with that. But in his normal state of mind he would not get in a car and drive. He was good at that.”

“Rob didn’t do drugs,” Grenvicz says. “Unless he’s been hiding secrets from me for 11 years—I won’t even go there. Rob didn’t do drugs. This is so out of left field, so out of the universe we all lived in with Rob.”

Police said there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol at the scene of the crash, but a toxicology report is expected to be completed within a week. If it turns out Bironas had been drinking, his friends will still have a difficult time understanding the alleged road-rage incidents. “Even if he got pile-driven drunk, you’ve got your buddies who are happy drunk and aggressive drunk,” Martin says. “Rob was the happy drunk. Never was aggressive.”

Two of Bironas’ close friends confirmed that he had a prescription for Ambien, given by doctors to insomnia sufferers. A short-acting hypnotic drug, Ambien’s adverse side effects can include dysphoria, delusions and hallucinations.

“I think some people think Ambien as a matter of deduction,” Martin says. “Ambien’s got such a history. This buddy of ours toured Europe and they were on a train, took Ambien, and the next morning they didn’t remember playing cards or getting arrested … Obviously, everybody is just trying to make sense of why he acted the way he acted.”

Grenvicz isn’t sure the toxicology report will necessarily tell the whole story. He wonders if the cause of the crash might be something simple and undetectable: What if he was texting? What if he had a stroke? What if he just fell asleep? Bironas’ friend would prefer to think about all the good times, about watching his friend realize his dream of kicking footballs on Sunday afternoons and then hurrying over to the Grenwicz house because they were fixing spaghetti.

“I lost my best friend and I don’t necessarily know why,” Grenvicz says. “But I do know that I’ll see him again and be able to ask him what happened, but at that point it probably won’t even matter.”

(Posted from mmqb.si.com)

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Rob Bironas’ dad refuses to let final hours define son (The Tennessean Online – 9.25.14)

Rob Bironas, the record-setting former Titans kicker whose life ended in a one-vehicle accident, was remembered as determined, generous, funny and beloved at a memorial service on Thursday.

A crowd of several hundred, including former teammates, prominent Nashvillians, and football fans, gathered to remember Bironas at the Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home. Though his athletic accomplishments were acknowledged, Bironas was celebrated foremost as a father, husband, son, brother and friend.

Questions remain about the final hours of Bironas’ life, when he apparently left his home without explanation Saturday night and then was involved in two road rage incidents between 10:30 and 11 p.m. before crashing his SUV on Battery Lane. He was 36.

Bironas’ father, Larry Bironas, said the family would not let the final 30 minutes of his son’s life define the former Titans kicker.

“Rest in heaven knowing that your image will not be tarnished,” Larry Bironas said at the memorial service. “Your friends and family will, over time, cleanse and heal this small snapshot that has tried to overshadow who you are. Rest in heaven assured that your family and friends will find answers and cleanse this short moment of your life.”

The elder Bironas vowed to continue his son’s legacy of community service and commitment to his family.

The crowd inside the main chapel was limited to family and close friends. Those not on the list of the 250 allowed in the main chapel were accommodated in a nearby overflow room. Others watched the memorial on a big-screen television set up on the lawn outside the building.

Bironas played nine seasons with the Titans (2005-2013).

Nikes and Chucks

Titans General Manager Ruston Webster, Executive Vice President Don MacLachlan and Vice President/Football Administration Vin Marino attended the service along with a large number of Bironas’ former teammates.

Keith Bulluck, Marc Mariani, Chris Hope, Zach Piller, Dave Ball, Donnie Nickey, Brett Kern, Beau Brinkley, Craig Hentrich, Eugene Amano, Ken Amato, Leroy Harris, Tim Shaw, Casey Cramer and Patrick Bailey were in attendance. Former Titans special teams coach Alan Lowry also attended, and former Titans General Manager Mike Reinfeldt was there.

Titans play-by-play man Mike Keith, who called all 11 of Bironas’ game-winning field goals, joined the mourners, along with Al Smith, formerly in player development with the team.

Country music’s Kellie Pickler and her husband, Kyle Jacobs, were there, and Christian singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith also attended.

Former NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip was there to show support for his friend, Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, whose daughter Rachel married Bironas in June.

Rachel Bradshaw sat between her mother and father during the emotional service, her dress complemented with Nike running shoes. Several other female friends also wore Nikes. Bironas had an endorsement deal, and he wanted those around him wearing Nikes. On this day, they gladly obliged.

Bironas’ buddies wore Chuck Taylor sneakers with their suits, another look Bironas was known for, whether it was for a casual event or a black-tie affair.

At least a dozen of Bironas’ friends wore neckties that came straight from his closet. At one point during the ceremony, they all stood, and friend Joe Grenvicz looked at Bironas’ 8-year-old son, London, and told him they would all be there for him in the years ahead.

One of the most touching moments of the ceremony came when London stood up during a song and walked down the aisle to give his grandfather, Larry Bironas, a hug. Then he proceeded down the row, receiving one hug after another from family. It was an emotional scene that brought out the tissues and tears.

‘Everybody in this room loved Rob’

Before the memorial, family and friends talked quietly in the hallways at the funeral home. Pictures of Bironas decorated the walls, some from his days as a blond-headed kid growing up in Kentucky. Others showed him at Disney World with his son. There were multiple images of Bironas in his Titans uniform.

Bironas’ uniforms, the No. 2 he made famous, decorated the chapel inside. His Titans uniform, a Pro Bowl uniform and a throwback uniform were on display. So were blown-up pictures of Bironas with a big smile on his face. Game programs featuring Bironas on the cover, along with footballs, served as more reminders of his accomplishments.

He also was known by teammates, friends and family as a prankster. Grenvicz recalled how Bironas visited his office and introduced himself to strangers as an accountant or a landscaper.

Former teammate Michael Griffin said Bironas was especially skilled at hazing rookies, including throwing their clothes into the ice tub during practice.

“I don’t care what happened in the last 30 minutes of his life,” Grenvicz said. “There are a lot of good people in this room who wouldn’t be associated with something that was evil. And everybody in this room loved Rob, and I know that, and it makes me proud.”

The investigation into the crash is continuing, and police have said toxicology results would not be available for weeks.

(posted from The Tennessean)

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Titans Remember Franchise Great Rob Bironas (Titans Online – 9.25.14)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the day of his funeral, the Titans are remembering the life and career of former franchise kicker Rob Bironas, who passed away last Saturday at the age of 36.

A consistent player on the field and big participant in the greater Nashville community, Bironas is remembered as one of the greatest Titans who always remembered his roots and continually gave back to those in need.

“Rob made a significant impact as a player in his nine years with the team and more importantly touched many lives in the Nashville community off the field,” the Titans said following his death.

Bironas finished as the franchise’s second leading scorer with 1,032 points from 2005-13, providing consistency at the position with several clutch kicks and game-winning field goals. He was the fourth most-accurate kicker in NFL history, connecting on 85.7 percent of his kicks (239 of 279), made a franchise-record 11 game-winning field goals and booted a 60-yarder — the longest in team history — to beat the Colts at LP Field in 2006.

In addition, he kicked an NFL single-game record eight field goals in a 2007 victory over the Houston Texans, including a 29-yarder as time expired, to help him earn Associated Press All-Pro honors and his only Pro Bowl berth that season. Bironas also tied the franchise record with 20 consecutive field goals during the 2012 season. He reached the mark twice before in his career to tie the record originally set by Al Del Greco from 1998-99.

Not only did Bironas excel on the football field, he was one of the team’s community all-stars off the field, taking part in numerous charitable events in the greater Nashville area and his home state of Kentucky. He started the Rob Bironas Fund in 2008 to help give back to those in need.

“I put a lot of time and energy into the community and really enjoy meeting a lot of great people and taking part in the various community events,” he said the day he signed his contract extension in 2013. “That’s something I’ll continue to be involved in and look forward to doing.”

Bironas went to Auburn and transferred to Georgia Southern, where he won a Division I-AA national title. He went to work for his father’s company in Louisville, Kentucky, and was cut by Green Bay in 2002. He played in the Arena Football League and even the AF2 while spending time in training camps with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh working as a part-time security guard and other jobs while trying to stick with an NFL team.

He finally won a roster spot with the Titans in 2005.

“To play in the NFL,” he said in 2006, “was the ultimate goal.”

The shocking news of his death hit home to his former teammates and others around Nashville.

“It’s one of those things that gives you perspective,” QB Jake Lockersaid. “It reminds you to be thankful for the people in your life. Rob was a charismatic guy that always brought smiles to people’s faces around the building. It’s tough to see it happen to someone so young, who was just recently married. You feel for him and his loved ones that are left behind.”

Cornerback Jason McCourty echoed Locker’s comments as he remembered his former teammate.

“I remember a guy who was positive, a guy who was upbeat and always trying to bring a smile to his teammates around him,” McCourty said. “It’s just crazy. Less than a year ago he was on that team with us. He was taking the field with us, traveling with us. To think a guy so young and not far removed from being one of us has passed away, it’s tough because you feel like at any moment that could be you. You feel like it could be one of your brothers that’s passed away. It’s tough to deal with, but you just have to know God has a plan and there will be some positive to come from it and you just have to believe in him.”

Punter Brett Kern, who served as the holder for Bironas on field goals and extra points for five seasons, maintained a close friendship with his former teammate in recent months.

“I want to honor him, the legacy that he had here — the man that he was, the father that he was and the husband that he was, the family guy that he was,” Kern said the night of his memorial in Nashville.

Long snapper Beau Brinkley said Bironas helped advance his NFL career.

“He was a big part of my life — and I wasn’t very good coming in as a snapper — and if it wouldn’t have been for him I probably wouldn’t even be here today,” Brinkley said. “He has made a very influential mark on me, as well as my family.”

Safety Michael Griffin, who played seven seasons with Bironas, wrote this on Twitter just hours after his passing: “I can’t tell you how many games he won for us over my seven years with him, but I can tell you he was a great teammate, father, husband and friend. May your soul rest in peace and prayers go out to your family. #RIP Rob Bironas.”

(posted from Titans Online)

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Obituary

James Robert Douglas Bironas
January 29, 1978 – September 20, 2014

Discipline, Focus, Preparation, Overcoming Adversity, and Recovering From Mistakes. These are the five keystones by which Rob Bironas lived his life. These are the elements by which he measured his Earthly success, and they are the platforms that he used to encourage children of Tennessee and Kentucky through this charity, the Rob Bironas Fund. These five principles closely aligned with Rob’s professional gifts – the way he was disciplined in training as a placekicker throughout his career. Rob had a cadence – the bounce on his toes, the steps toward the ball, the way his foot made contact, the ‘hang time’ in the air all before the ball made its way through the uprights. It was never by chance. His technique involved focus, preparation and almost always overcame adverse elements. Weather, wind, fierce opponents, grass conditions, ball position – it all mattered. And Rob knew how to adjust – how to navigate so that the results were intentional. In talking about his kicking technique, Rob often quoted the movie For Love of the Game by saying “clear the mechanism.” In his mind he could silence a crowd, calm a wind, and slow the game clock. And if discipline, focus, preparation, and overcoming adverse elements weren’t enough, he also knew how to recover from his missteps. Rob studied his errors, accepted them, and never let his mistakes on the field affect his mental game. Because it is a game. He loved football, but mostly he loved his life, his community, his wife, his son, and his friends and family.

James Robert Douglas Bironas was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 29, 1978 to Larry and Anne Bironas during an infamous snowstorm. The second of four children, Rob’s family is a picture of a rare, enviable close-knit, fun-loving, casually competitive unit. They respect each other, support each other and because there are just simply a lot of Bironases, the sheer number of them provides for both fun and chaos. Larry, is the backbone of the Bironas family. He married Anne, in 1971 and they live in Louisville, as do Rob’s two brothers and their wives and families. Greg (35) is married to Lindsey and they have two boys, Luke (6) and William (2). Blake (33) is married to Tracy and they have three children, Alena (6), Lainey (3) and Cohen (2). Rob’s sister Mitzi (38) lives in Brentwood with her husband Chad and their three children, Lilly (6), Annie (2) and Samuel (10mos). Rob’s son, London Tyler Bironas (8), a ‘spitting image’ of his father, is a witty and kind-spirited budding soccer player who displays a familiar tenacity. Spending long stretches of time in Nashville with his dad, it was a common scene for all of the Bironas clan to attend Titan’s games in their “RB2” gear, and then pile into Rob’s house for a few days of family time. This was Rob’s normal. Their presence kept him grounded.

In November of 2012, Rob experienced a night that changed his life. While attending the charity event to benefit Breast Cancer research, Rob met Rachel Bradshaw, a Nashville songwriter and the daughter of NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback, Terry Bradshaw and Charla Bradshaw, a Dallas attorney. The connection between Rob and Rachel was immediate. Rob told his friends the next day that he had met his wife that night – only she didn’t know it yet. On June 28 of this year, Rachel Bradshaw became Mrs. Bironas on a beautiful summer evening in Dallas, TX. With their huge family and closest friends in attendance, the couple radiated happiness, and as they were pronounced husband and wife, Rachel literally jumped for joy. It is no doubt that such a deep connection between the two will never be forgotten by those closest to the couple.

Rob and Rachel lived a quiet life in Nashville. Their mutual love of music was evident throughout their home. A writing room with keyboards, a piano in the living room, a game room strewn with guitars, this was their passion. Rachel’s own talents as a writer and vocalist rival Rob’s abilities on the football field. Her talent for lyrical narrative and her pure, sweet voice have her poised for a successful career in country music. Rob and Rachel’s four dogs, Titan, Buster, Bella and Bianca are their beloved four-legged children. A typical night at the Bironas home was spent piled with their dogs in front of a movie. Rachel brought a grounding force to Rob and she created a home filled with love, music, and laughter; a life he held very dear.

Rob is best known for his role as Placekicker for the Tennessee Titans. He always knew he wanted to be a professional athlete, but he didn’t expect it to be in football. Growing up on the soccer fields in Louisville, KY, Rob aspired to make his career in soccer. His interest in football began when his Dad mentioned that his powerful soccer kick might be a good match for the sport. Rob’s younger brother, Greg, who was a kicker in the eighth grade at the time, was Rob’s first coach. Their backyard became a practice field with pine trees and horse fences serving as goal posts.

Rob played football for Trinity High School in Louisville, and went on to play collegiate ball for Auburn University and Georgia Southern University. Signed to the Tennessee Titans in 2005, his road to the NFL was not without adversity and had many stops along the way. Rob played for the Arena Football League, and was later signed to the Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers before landing in Tennessee where he played for nine seasons. Rob’s career is marked with impressive football accomplishments. He holds the NFL record for the most field goals in one game, eight. Rob famously kicked a 60-yard game winner in 2006 to beat the Indianapolis Colts, was named All-Pro and selected to play in the 2008 Pro Bowl, is the second-highest scorer in Oilers/Titan’s history, and he will be remembered as one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.

Rob dearly loved the Nashville community that supported him throughout his career, and he remained loyal to his home state of Kentucky, never forgetting his roots. Through Rob’s success as an athlete, he felt blessed to be able to give back to the communities where he grew up and where he made his home. Rob started the Rob Bironas Fund, a component fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, in 2008. The Rob Bironas Fund supports opportunities and organizations that have children at the center of their mission. Over the course of six years, tens of thousands of dollars have been distributed by Rob’s fund to the children of Middle Tennessee and Kentucky. His passion for music and admiration for those with musical talent led Rob to support music education through The Nashville Symphony and the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame. He provided needed funds to area schools to purchase instruments for children with musical talent whose families could not otherwise afford them. He was a supporter of the Make A Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, granting a Wish by purchasing a pipe organ for one Wish child and sending another to the Grammy’s in 2013. He gave to Brave Hearts, an organization that supports children with congenial heart defects. In addition to his own charitable giving, Rob supported his friends and teammates in their own charitable endeavors, giving his time and talent to many worthy organizations. Each year he looked forward to the Kevin Carter Foundation’s “Waiting for Wishes” event, attending and raising money, but also donating a kicking clinic each year to the silent auction.

Rob was tragically taken from this Earth on September 20, 2014, too soon for a young man in such a beautiful moment in his life, happily married with an exciting career opportunity on the horizon. The impact that Rob Bironas made on his profession, his community, his friends, and his family is now a void in which all who loved him search for answers and through which we hope to find peace. As a believer in Jesus Christ, Rob has found rest in the arms of The Lord. He will be missed by all who knew him and were touched by him in this life.

Rob once said about his father, “He is the guy I look up to, the guy I hope to be like one day. He has succeeded in life in spite of where he started. He is a man of principle and truth; and has supported me every step of the way. My Dad is my true hero and I can’t thank him enough for believing in me.”

Rob, you are a man we look up to, a man we hope to be one day. You succeeded in life. You were a man of principle and truth, and have supported us every step of the way. You are our true hero.

Rachel Bradshaw Bironas and the Bironas family ask that you celebrate Rob’s life with gifts to the Rob Bironas Fund through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (www.cfmt.org). Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Visitation will be held at the Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home located at 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 from 5pm-8pm. Funeral Services will be held at the same location on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 2:30pm.

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Rob Bironas Fund to Continue Charitable Legacy

Nashville, Tennessee. – Rob Bironas founded The Rob Bironas Fund, a component fund of the The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, in 2008 with a desire to raise and distribute support to causes that have children at the center of their missions. The Fund makes grants with guidelines supported by five “keystones” which were taken from Bironas’ own approach to his kicking career and life. These are: discipline, focus, preparation, overcoming adversity, and recovering from mistakes.

Since 2008, tens of thousands of dollars have been distributed to pay for musical instruments for children who otherwise could not afford them, as well as grant wishes for Make-A-Wish children, among others. The Fund will continue supporting a broad array of children’s causes in Middle Tennessee.

To make a donation:

Make contributions online at www.cfmt.org or donations can be mailed to:

The Rob Bironas Fund
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
3833 Cleghorn Avenue
Nashville, TN 37215

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee oversees nearly 1,000 charitable funds, providing customized philanthropic solutions with flexibility for donors, nonprofit organizations and the community. In the past 23 years, The Community Foundation has distributed more than $684 million to community programs and institutions. It is located at 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, #400, Nashville, Tennessee 37215. For more information, call 615-321-4939or visit www.cfmt.org.

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Bironas Family Announces Funeral Arrangements

Nashville, TN – (September 22, 2014) – The family of former Titans Placekicker, Rob Bironas, announces funeral arrangements.

Visitation will be held at the Woodlawn Roesch-Patton Funeral Home located at 660 Thompson Lane in Nashville on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 from 5pm-8pm. Funeral Services will be held at the same location on Thursday, September 25, 2014 at 2:30pm.

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