NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Former Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile is a Hall of Famer who never played an NFL game in the state of Tennessee.
Yet in so many ways, he feels like a Titan.
And because of that, he's forever grateful to Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk.
"I can't tell you how much it means to me," Brazile said. "She has made me feel like I am such a big part of things, like I am a Titan. She's been so good to me, just like her dad was always good to me. And I thank her from the bottom of my heart."
Brazile, who played from 1975-84 with the Oilers, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in August. On Sunday, he'll serve as the Honorary 12th Titan for the team's game against the Ravens. He'll also receive his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence in a special ceremony.
Also, Brazile will go into the team's Ring of Honor, where his name will be on display atop Nissan Stadium.
Outfitted in his gold Hall of Fame jacket, Brazile stopped by Titans practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Friday and addressed the team. Earlier, he walked the halls at the facility, as Strunk introduced Brazile and his family to team employees. He spent over 30 minutes chatting in Strunk's office before heading out to practice to meet the players.
After talking to the team, Brazile told Titans coach Mike Vrabel to "take them to Atlanta," site of this year's Super Bowl.
Nearby, Titans secondary coach Kerry Coombs responded with an "Amen."
"They have to cherish this moment, these years with these guys, because tomorrow is not promised," Brazile said of the Titans players. "They need to cherish these times, and I tell them – if you work hard, maybe you can be in the Hall of Fame one day, too. But as a team, I feel they have something special here."
Brazile also gave Vrabel a Hall of Fame pin. He chatted with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota on his way off the practice field.
"Any time we can get those guys that played at a high level and were successful around our team, especially one that meant so much to Amy and her family," Vrabel said, "I think it's a great idea."
A first-round pick by the Houston Oilers in 1975, Brazile played 10 seasons and never missed a game. He was voted to seven consecutive Pro Bowls, and was named to three All-Pro teams.
Brazile said he's been touched by how Strunk has treated him. Bud Adams, father of Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, was the owner when Brazile played for the Oilers. Brazile, nicknamed "Dr. Doom," helped the Oilers to three consecutive 10-win seasons, and he started at linebacker in back-to-back AFC Championship Game appearances.
Strunk organized an Oilers reunion within the past year in Houston. On Friday, she sent her private plane to pick up Brazile's family in Mobile, Alabama.
"This relationship started years ago with her dad," Brazile said. "Her dad, Mr. Adams, was such a great guy to me. He treated me as a professional, and he treated me like I was a part of the Oilers, and it made me feel so good, and Amy carried it over. She reached out to my family and she's been so good to me.
"She is the sister you never have in the NFL. She is more than a sister to me. If I need some advice, I could go to her and I know she'd shoot me straight, just like I did her daddy."
Strunk said she's become good friends with Brazile, and is proud of his accomplishments.
She wants the Oilers to feel like they have a home with the team.
"The guys in Houston, no fault of their own, kind of got left out – they kind of became NFL orphans, and it always bothered me," Strunk said. "And it became important for me to include them, and have a reunion and start bridging whatever happened in the past to get them feeling like they are part of our family.
"Robert, he is just the most wonderful person. I have the most utmost affection for him. And nobody deserved to be in the Hall of Fame more. I am so proud of him."
Brazile said 15 of his family members will be in Nashville this weekend for the game, and ceremony, including his parents.
Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker will present Brazile his Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence in a ceremony during a break in action in the first quarter of Sunday's game. The Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence is one of three iconic symbols that represent the elite status of being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brazile received his Hall of Fame Gold Jacket and unveiled his Bronzed Bust during the Enshrinement Week this past August.
Strunk will be among those proudly watching another big moment for Brazile, the Oilers -- and the Titans.
"It's my mom's birthday coming up, so that makes all this even more special to me," Brazile said. "It's going to be a great weekend."
Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk and the entire organization welcomed back Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Robert Brazile to Nashville for a weekend of festivities surrounding the former Houston Oilers legend. (Photos: Gary Glenn)
Former Houston Oiler and franchise Hall of Fame linebacker Robert Brazille addresses the team prior to Friday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)