Note: *Read below story for two community events Walker is involved in later this week to raise money/awareness for the Delanie Walker Foundation. *
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Delanie Walker made history with his record-breaking season in 2015.
The veteran tight end, who's preparing for his 11th NFL season, has no plans to let up. He knows folks are counting on him, both inside and outside the building at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
"Someone asked me before: How do I keep my momentum? How do I keep the love for the game playing for so many years in the NFL?,'' Walker said on Tuesday. "I always say it's my family. I take care of my family, at least 75 percent of my family, and I think football is what helps me do it.
"And I love playing the game. I love being in this atmosphere with my teammates. I don't think there is anything like it. This is a job people wish they could have, being able to play a game you love and being able to interact with some of your best friends, and get paid to do it."
Walker led the Titans and all NFL tight ends in receptions in 2015. He caught 94 passes for 1,088 receiving yards, with six touchdowns.
He set a franchise records for tight ends in catches and receiving yards, and became just the ninth tight end in NFL history to record 90 catches in a season, joining Tony Gonzalez (five times), Jason Witten (four), Todd Christensen (two) and Dallas Clark, Jimmy Graham, Ben Coates, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski.
The work earned Walker a trip to the Pro Bowl, and put him right in the middle of the conversation about the NFL's best at the position.
He's motivated to keep it going.
"I always felt like I was an elite tight end in the league, and I finally got the opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl,'' Walker said. "But it hasn't changed me. I am still hungry, and I want to do more. This time, I don't want to be an alternate. I want to be that guy that gets voted in and I know that takes us winning games. This year I really think we are going to win the games and I'll probably get the recognition I deserve."
Walker is excited because of some of the changes around him.
The team has been busy this offseason, adding 10 new players since the beginning of March, including a trade for former Cowboys and Eagles running back DeMarco Murray.
Last week, Titans general manager Jon Robinson also pulled off a trade involving the No.1 pick. Robinson shipped the pick to the Rams, and acquired a boatload of picks in exchange, including two second-round picks in this year's draft and an additional first-round pick next year.
"I think there's been some great moves,'' Walker said. "The GM is bringing in players who can compete, guys who will make this team better and get us going in the right direction. Coming from the Patriots and how that organization usually handles business, I knew he would bring that mindset here to try and turn this organization around."
In Murray, the Titans now have a proven running back to lead a younger group. In 2014, Murray was named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year after racking up 1,845 rushing yards with the Cowboys.
"Just watching him over the years and seeing the things he has done,'' Walker said, "I know he is a playmaker and he has the ability to take over the game and that is something that can help our offense."
On Monday, coach Mike Mularkey mentioned the addition of Murray could mean more blocking assignments for Walker.
The idea had already crossed Walker's mind.
"I am pretty sure,'' Walker said. "When you have a threat like that, and you have a tight end threat, if I am on the field at all times blocking and running routes, I think that gives us a mismatch on the field. Defenses won't know what is going on, and that just gives you another opportunity to put points on the board."
Walker, who has caught at least 60 passes in every season since joining the Titans in 2013, won't lie when asked about the favorite part of his job description. "I'd rather catch the football,'' he said with a smile.
But coming off two and three-win seasons over the past two years, he's willing to do whatever for the team to have success.
"I mean, they pay me to play football, and if I have to block, I'll block,'' Walker said. "I'll block when I need to, and I have fun doing that. And if we need a bigger guy to come in we have a guy who can do that as well. We signed Craig (Stevens) back and he is one of the best blockers in the NFL. I have no worries. Whatever they ask me to do I am willing to do it.
"I just want to win games."
Tight end Delanie Walker has two events later this week:
Carving It Up with Delanie Walker
What: Walker will join guests for a cocktail reception, appetizers, and a live and silent auction (including tickets, jerseys and helmets). The event will benefit the Delanie Walker Gives Back Foundation, which provides inner city and low-income children with educational opportunities and resources to reach their full potential and beat the odds. For more information, visit delaniewalker.org.
When: Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Texas de Brazil (210 25th Avenue N #110
Cost: $50 tickets at delaniewalker.org
Walker quote: "It's just trying to build awareness for our community in Nashville. I want people to know the Titans are doing things in the community and trying to help the kids, and our future. The kids will be the doctors, the lawyers, the teachers of the future."
Delanie Walker's Imagination Station
What: Walker will reveal a community outreach program to students. A new reading room, created in collaboration with Scholastic Book Fairs, will be furnished with bookshelves, beanbag chairs, a reading module and stereo listening center and audio library. The station will provide access to 1,200 age-appropriate books and serve as a dedicated area where students and their families can read, lead and explore together. Walker will read to the students at the end of the event.
Where: Fall-Hamilton Elementary School
Cost: This is private event, open to invited guests.
Walker quote: "It's a library we built, and it's a free safe zone where they can pick a book of their choice. We have found out when kids pick a book of their choice, they are more likely to read it. So this gives them an opportunity where they can study, do their homework and also read. It is something dearly to me. I feel like if I can help kids learn, or help parents who can't afford to help get them a library card, this is an opportunity for them to get a book. They can do their homework in there, or play games, and they can feel like they are safe. It's a safe zone where they can learn."
TitansOnline.com looks back at TE Delanie Walker's 2015 season. (AP Photos)