Tight Ends' Touchdowns Worth More Than Points

Mike Hogan

Tennessee Titans tight ends have scored four touchdowns already this season, and their position coach, Todd Downing, hopes they can find the end zone even more for reasons that go well beyond points on the scoreboard and the success of the team

For each touchdown scored by a Titans tight end this season, Downing and his family will donate $1,000 to 100 Black Men of America, Inc., a men’s civic organization and service club whose goal is to educate and empower African-American children and teens. So far, the donations amount to $4,000.

“I hope they score 100 touchdowns,” Downing said Tuesday. “We’re excited to be a part of it, I think it’s a good initiative and certainly something we are fortunate to be in a place where we can support what’s important to my players.”

Downing’s decision to support 100 Black Men, Inc., comes as professional leagues and sports teams continue to take action and public stands against racism, police brutality and social injustice in America.

In the middle of training, the Titans were one of several teams to cancel practice in response to current events. After police shot Jacob Blake seven times in Kenosha, Wisc., paralyzing him from the waist down, safety Kevin Byard and quarterback Ryan Tannehill delivered a strong message on behalf of the team.

Head coach Mike Vrabel announced soon after that the Titans would implement a social action plan, which includes registering to vote, pushing to have conversations with elected officials and community outreach to youth in Middle Tennessee.

Downing said the decision he and his family made to donate to the organization stems directly from conversations he had with players in the Titans’ tight end room. Those discussions, he added, have been steered by Vrabel and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

“Just creating an environment where we can have an open dialogue and talk with one another,” Downing said. “It was important to us to do something together … to show unity and celebrate our on the field performance by incorporating a cause that we knew would help with some of the issues our society has going on today.”

Downing explained that his wife, Julie, did research in their efforts to find an organization to which they could contribute. The checklist that the tight ends put together made a match for 100 Black Men.

Downing made it clear that Titans pursuit of equality and justice for all will not waver, regardless of whether he has to open the checkbook on a weekly basis.

“We just wanted to kick it off, our family just wanted to kick it off, by saying, ‘We stand with you. We support you. If those issues are important to you, they are important to us.’ A bunch of people have jumped behind it and it’s off and running at a pretty good clip.”

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