HOUSTON — Some NFL players won't go near the Super Bowl city the week of the game. It's too painful, a reminder of a season that fell short.
Titans tight end Delanie Walker sucks it up and goes each year. His cause – to spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving for MADD -- is too important to him.
Save"I would love to be in the big game,'' Walker said Thursday morning. "But I have a cause that I care about, and I can talk about. It is an outlet to help others. And if people will listen to me and I can make a difference, that's what I'm going to try and do. I want to try and do my part."
Four 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. They were on their way back to their hotel after watching Walker play that night for the San Francisco 49ers, against the Baltimore Ravens.
Walker has four hours of interviews scheduled for today on Radio Row, where he's also discussing a Tostitos, which launched limited-edition "party-safe" bags in connection with Sunday's Super Bowl that can tell if someone has been drinking. Frito-Lay will also be giving out 25,000 $10 Uber discounts to those who purchase any of its chips between now and the Super Bowl.
Walker hasn't been to a Super Bowl since his game with the 49ers.
He believes the Titans are getting close to making it.
"The only way I will go to a Super Bowl is if we're playing,'' Walker said. "But I think we are very close. I think there's a few pieces we are missing, but we have a good coaching staff and a good GM and I am pretty sure they're going to find the pieces we need.
"What is it we need? I am not sure. I am not in the drawing room, I just play. But when talent comes in, I notice it. We have a lot of pieces. I am pretty sure they are going to find some more people who come in and play at a high level as well, and put us over the top."
Walker, who played in the Pro Bowl this past Sunday, just wrapped up his 11th NFL season.
He knows the clock is ticking for him to get a ring. He believes the Titans, coming off a 9-7 season on a team that produced five Pro Bowlers, have a window of opportunity that's now open.
"Most definitely,'' Walker said. "It is always in the back of your mind, you want to get a championship ring. I know I have a few more years, and the opportunity with this team is close. I think I can achieve that with the Titans, that the team, we can win one.
"I think our team, it has gotten so much better. We brought in a lot of younger guys that were hungry, and it showed, because they got a lot of opportunity to play, and I look forward to them progressing.'
Walker said he's confident in coach Mike Mularkey, his former tight ends coach. And he has complete faith in quarterback Marcus Mariota as he recovers from a fractured fibula he suffered on December 24.
He's already looking forward to 2017.
"I grew so close with Mike, and I am so happy he is our coach,'' Walker said. "I love the guy, and I can't say that about all coaches. I have a lot of love for Mike Mularkey. Ever since I've known him he's kept it straight with me and for him to get an opportunity to turn the team the way he did, I am so happy.
"As for Marcus, he is going to come back 100 percent. He is the kind of person who has a great work ethic, so this injury is not going to slow him down. I am pretty sure he is in the gym as we speak."
TitansOnline.com looks back at TE Delanie Walker's 2016 Pro Bowl season. (AP Photos)