College: Georgia Southern/Auburn University
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Born: January 29,1978
Years in the NFL: 8
ABOUT ROB BIRONAS
Perseverance. For Rob Bironas, it’s more than a word – it’s a way of life. Besides his unmatched precision on the field, it’s perhaps the trait he’s most known for.
Early on, Rob set his hopes high. 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 wanted to make a career in soccer. Football didn’t enter the picture until his Dad mentioned that his powerful soccer kick might be a match for the sport. Rob’s younger brother, Greg, who was a kicker in the eighth grade, was Rob’s first coach. Their backyard became a practice field with pine trees and horse fences serving as goal posts.
Rob didn’t join the football team until his junior year at Trinity High School. Rob tried to make the team his freshman and sophomore years, but finally made the varsity team the third time around. Rob didn’t know he made the team until the night before the season opener. He went on to letter both his junior and senior years.
After high school, Rob turned down scholarship offers from smaller schools because he was determined to play Division I football. Rob was invited to visit LSU, but they offered the job to another recruit the day before his visit. Determined to find a place to play, Rob and his Dad did a week-long tour of the remaining SEC schools. Auburn held the greatest scholarship opportunity for Rob as the team only had one kicker. Rob walked on to the team at Auburn as a red-shirt freshman, and was offered a scholarship and the starting position his sophomore year. That year, he was a semi-finalist for the 1998 Lou Groza Award for making 12 of 16 field goals, including two 49-yarders, and all 18 PATs.
An injury in his senior season combined with a switch in coaches caused Rob to lose his scholarship at Auburn. Rob made some calls and joined Georgia Southern to play his senior season. That year, the Georgia Southern Eagles won the Division I-AA National Championship.
Despite helping win a title for his team, Rob didn’t generate much interest from the NFL and decided to finish his marketing degree at Auburn. After graduating in May 2001, he hoped to attend spring training camp, but instead landed at his father’s building automation business in Louisville. Although he was working for his Dad, he spent his lunch breaks and evenings kicking footballs and working out. Clearly, football was still Rob’s dream. Rob contemplated giving up that dream, but his father encouraged him to keep trying.
Rob famously attempted to make an NFL team three times – with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh – before getting signed on with the Titans in 2005. Rob worked hard to stay in shape, training with Eagles kicker Dave Akers in the summers. Never giving up his dream of kicking for the NFL, Rob turned to the Arena League each time he was cut from a team. While playing for the Carolina Cobras, he worked as a Best Buy security guard to supplement his Arena League income.
In three short years, Rob has come a long way from his days in the Arena League. Rob got his break when the Tennessee Titans invited him to training camp in 2005. However, once he signed on with the Titans, he was careful not to rest on his laurels. Rob spent the entire season in an extended stay hotel to remind him that nothing is a guarantee and to keep focused.
That year, Rob found a quote very indicative of his character and his journey: “The
road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces.” He has kept that quote on a post-it note in his car ever since.
Although Rob always dreamed of playing in the NFL, he never imagined that he would set the NFL record for most field goals in a game, lead the NFL in field goals and make the Pro-Bowl and All-Pro Teams all in one season. However, in 2007, Rob did just that. He nailed eight field goals, including the game-winner, against Houston to set both franchise and NFL records. The ball from that game now resides in the Football Hall of Fame. He also led the NFL with 35 field goals and had a career-best 133 points.
Rob is quick to point out that he cannot take full credit for his success – he always recognizes that he could not be successful without a great holder, Craig Hentrich, team punter, and a strong offensive line.
Although there have been numerous people who have helped Rob along the way (Randy Brown, a kicking consultant, who recommended that Auburn give him a shot; Frank Novak, Packers Special Teams Coach, who told Rob he could play in the NFL and recommended him to other teams; and Alan Lowry, Titans Special Teams Coach, who insisted to management that Rob be brought into training camp), Rob credits his perseverance, in large part, to his Dad.
Rob sums it up best: “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.”