Delanie Walker Still Doing his Part for MADD

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SAN FRANCISCO —Back in the city where he broke into the NFL, Titans tight end Delanie Walker spent part of his Thursday talking about a heartbreaking tragedy.

On the third anniversary of the death of his aunt and uncle, Walker also continued to spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving at a MADD press conference here at the Super Bowl.

"This means a lot to me, and I feel like if people will listen to me and I can make a difference, that's what I'm going to try and do,'' Walker said. "I still don't understand why it happened to two people that I love. I don't know that I'll ever understand why. But all I can do is honor them by speaking, and that's what I am going to do.

"I know they are still looking out for me, and I am going to do my part for them."

Exactly three years ago, two of Walker's biggest fans - his Aunt Alice "Peaches" Young and Uncle Bryan Young -- were killed by a drunk driver on their way home from the Super Bowl in New Orleans, after watching Walker play that night for the 49ers against the Ravens.

Ever since, Walker has been involved with MADD, speaking regularly about ways to bring awareness to the dangers of drunk driving.

Here on Thursday, Walker joined MADD, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and Uber at a press conference to remind football fans to designate a non-drinking driver if their plans Super Bowl weekend.

Debbie Weir, MADD Chief Executive Officer, and Rosekind called Walker a "hero" at the event for being so involved over the past three years, regularly speaking at functions across the country.

"Here at the Super Bowl you hear so much about the players on the field and the heroes they are,'' Rosekind said, "but in my book, Delanie is the hero today and through the weekend."

This week, MADD launched a pledge at madd.org/sb50 for football fans to pledge to designate a non-drinking driver.

Walker said he hopes more NFL players will be willing to speak up about the dangers of drunk driving.

"It is funny because guys have come up to me and said "I heard your story, and something like that happened in my family.' I always tell them, if you want to speak out you should come out with me. I just think some guys are scared because they don't want to make the mistake of getting caught drinking and driving,'' Walker said.

"This is a big task on my part. I have to be mindful. I have to practice what I preach. Hopefully we can get some more guys who practice what they preach come out and make a difference."

Walker, who played in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii, is spending the week in San Francisco.

Walker spent his first seven NFL seasons with the 49ers before joining the Titans in 2013.

"It is great to be back in San Francisco. The 49ers fans have been showing me nothing but love since I have been here. They have been screaming my name, telling me they miss me. It is overwhelming really,'' Walker said. "I enjoy it. I am a Titan until I am not a Titan but it is great for the 49ers fans to recognize what I am doing."

Tight end Delanie Walker takes part in photo shoot with Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office to increase awareness for their "Booze It and Lose It" campaign. (Photos: Lynne McCracken)

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