NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Chris Johnson became a household name with the Titans.
It's where he became known at "CJ2K," and where he became a man.
On Saturday, Johnson was back at Saint Thomas Sports Park as part of the team's Homecoming Weekend. He'll serve as the Honorary 12th Titan at Sunday's game vs. the Jets.
"It feels great to be back," Johnson said as he watched practice. "It's kind of crazy thinking about it, thinking about the first time I came here the day after the draft and meeting with the coaches – Jeff Fisher and Mike Heimerdinger – and then everything that happened while I was here.
"It's surreal to be back here. This is where I grew up. I was a 21-year-old when I came into the league, and I went from being a young man to a man. I definitely have good memories."
Johnson played for the Titans from 2008-2013 before finishing his career with the Jets and Cardinals. Last month, he officially announced his retirement from the NFL.
With 7,965 yards, Johnson departed as the franchise's No. 3 all-time rusher behind Eddie George (10,009) and Earl Campbell (8,574).
Johnson's run with the Titans was highlighted by a 2009 season when he became just the sixth back in NFL history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark in a season. Johnson was named the NFL's offensive player of the year that season, when he finished with 2,006 yards and set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage.
Johnson, wearing a "2K' necklace and another necklace with his number "28" around his neck, watched the current Titans practice on Saturday. He recalled his days practicing at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
"The best memories I had in the league, it's here," Johnson said. "The Titans are the ones that gave me an opportunity to make my dreams come true.
"It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since I came in. Ten years go by like that," Johnson said as he snapped. "It's gone by fast."
Johnson has two twin boys that are six years old, and an eight-month old daughter.
"I'm just enjoying life, just relaxing and enjoying it now," Johnson said. "But I'll always remember my days here. It was a great time in my life. And this is always going to be my team for life. I'm basically a Titan for Life."
The Titans will welcome back over 80 former players for Homecoming weekend.
On Friday night, many of the former players met in Nashville at Top Golf. They attended a walkthrough practice on Saturday, and had lunch at Saint Thomas Sports Park. A reception is planned for Saturday night.
The players will then be recognized at halftime of the team's game against the Jets.
"It's nice to come back and feel the love," former Titans running back LenDale White. "And to be back here on the practice field, it brings back a lot of memories."
Former Titans safety Tank Williams (2002-05) marveled at the changes inside the building, and said it's been great to reconnect with some of his former teammates.
"This was the best part of my career, being a guy from Mississippi and having an opportunity to play with Steve McNair," Williams said. "I was fortunate enough to play with such a great group of guys, and to be able to reconnect with them, it has been a fun experience so far."
Titans receiver Drew Bennett (2001-06) is back for the second time on Homecoming weekend.
He called it one of his favorite weekends of the year.
"That time in your life seems so distant when you are back in your hometown, and sitting around doing whatever," Bennett said. "Coming back here you relive a lot of the memories, the stories. Just sitting on the buses going places, you are laughing about things that happened 10 to 15 years ago like it happened just a few days ago. It's been awesome."
More than 80 former Titans players return to Saint Thomas Sports Park as part of the team's 2018 homecoming weekend in Nashville. (Photos: Gary Glenn)