NFL

The Tragic Death of Titans All-Pro Kicker Rob Bironas

Rob Bironas was not your average NFL kicker. That was proven in 2007 when the Tennessee Titans kicker set the NFL record for most field goals in a single game with eight. He earned All-Pro, and Pro Bowl honors that season. Bironas, however, was similar to other kickers in that he had his quirks. Plenty of them. Sadly, all those quirks and years of success came to an abrupt end in a tragic one-car accident just a few years ago.

Rob Bironas had a record-setting NFL career

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Before joining the Tennessee Titans in 2005, Rob Bironas did double duty, working as a security guard at Best Buy, while he worked his way up through the Arena Football League, first at AF2, the AFL’s minor league, then in 2004 with the AFL’s New York Dragons. Following that 2004 season, Bironas signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Titans.

After converting on 23 of 29 field goals his rookie season in 2005, Bironas built on that success in 2006 kicking four game-winning field goals, including a 60-yarder against the Indianapolis Colts, which tied for eighth-longest in NFL history. Then came 2007. 

In the 2007 season, Bironas got hot in October and was named the AFC Player of the Month, a rarity for a kicker. During that month he made 13 of 14 field goals, including an NFL-record eight field goals against the Houston Texans. Four other kickers have reached seven. Bironas ended 2007 connecting on an NFL-leading 35 of 39 attempts, including 13 of 15 beyond 40 yards. For his efforts, Bironas was named a member of the All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams.

Bironas kicked for six more seasons with the Titans, where he finished his career with an 85.7 percent success rate on field goals, which is the fourth-highest percentage in NFL history. Despite connecting on 25 of 29 field goal attempts and not missing a single PAT in 2013, new Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt came in and cleaned house. Bironas was out.

Bironas and his quirky behavior

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Rob Bironas, who was married to country singer Rachel Bradshaw, and daughter of NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, was your typical kicker. He had an odd pregame routine, which included a visit to the field a certain amount of times before kickoff, seeing a list of very specific people, and kicking for a specific number of minutes. Another ritual included getting pumped up on numerous energy drinks. 

“He’d drink those things as if he was going to go hit somebody,” former teammate and Titans cornerback Jason McCourty told Sports Illustrated. “Rob’s personality didn’t allow him to be your normal kicker. He was a guy who was talking to everybody.”  

McCourty said Bironas even had a team chiropractor assigned to him to keep the kicker occupied so he wouldn’t bother other players when he wasn’t kicking. 

Off the field, Bironas was more temperate. He was someone who enjoyed helping out others. He enjoyed music and would hang out with local musicians and promote their music. He started The Rob Bironas Fund, a charity to promote music education in Tennessee schools. When a friend would go out of town, it wasn’t uncommon for Bironas to volunteer and housesit, where he would take care of things like watering the garden. By all accounts, Bironas was a pleasant person.

Rob Bironas tragically dies

On September 20, 2014, something happened to the fun-loving and friendly Rob Bironas. After watching a movie with his wife and friend, Bironas indicated he was retiring for the evening. Instead, he left the house unnoticed in his SUV. What happened next shocked his family, teammates, and the sports world. 

At some point, Bironas consumed a large amount of alcohol. His wife said she had only witnessed him drinking one beer earlier in the evening. His blood alcohol content was later recorded to be .218 percent, considerably higher than the .08 legal limit. The toxicology report also revealed Bironas had a low level of Valium in his system, but its effects were negligible.

According to the police report, while driving around within a few minutes of his home, Bironas confronted two separate motorists just minutes apart. One motorist said Bironas threatened to “kill everybody in the vehicle.” Just minutes later, Bironas was traveling 73 mph on a road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph, when he lost control of the SUV. The vehicle struck a tree, spun, and landed in a creek bed below.

Larry Bironas told The Tennessean his son broke his neck in the accident. Bironas was taken to a local hospital where he died from blunt force trauma. He was 36 years old.