NASHVILLE – During his playing days, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey used to watch the Honorary 12th Titan plant the sword in the ground before Titans games.
On Saturday, before the Titans-Bengals Divisional Playoff game at Nissan Stadium, Casey will be doing the honors.
And he's fired up about it.
"I'm stoked about it," Casey said on Wednesday morning. "It's an honor, because you see all the people who have represented the Titans and the city in so many different areas, whether it's legends of the Titans or artists from music or people who have done great things in the city. To be there as the 12th Titan, that means a lot to me.
"I will be there for the fans who supported me, and for the players, my former teammates, my buddies. I can't wait to see them, and they can feel my presence a bit I hope."
Casey, who officially retired as a Titan last year, said he wants to do his part to fire up the crowd, but he thinks the fans will be stoked regardless.
"I'm going to bring energy, but they don't need me to get them hyped – they are already going to be juiced," Casey said with a smile. "We're in the playoffs, have home-field advantage, and D-Hen is coming back. You know they are already juiced about that. The King has returned.
"But to bring a little more of a presence in there, that's what I want to do. … I always try to bring a little juice myself."
During his distinguished career with the Titans, while playing from 2011 to 2019, Casey was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, a six-time defensive captain and a two-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. He ranks seventh in franchise history with 51 sacks — second only to Jevon Kearse (52) in the organization's "Titans era" (1999 to present).
Casey said he's proud of these Titans, a team he watched in person when the team visited the Rams at SoFi Stadium back in November.
Casey played on some good teams, and other teams that struggled. He takes pride in knowing he left his mark.
"I'm super-proud," Casey said. "These guys know what it means to be a Titan. The goal is to win a Super Bowl, and I obviously didn't get to get it done in my years, but we set a good foundation, and coach (Mike) Vrabel brought the mindset of being physically prepared, and also being mentally ready. He always preached that, and he's done a great job of getting guys to perform at a high level.
"I put my all into the team and the organization, and busted my tail every week to lay it on the line. I hope a lot of the younger guys recognized it, and they bought it to what we were preaching. … The way the Titans have played this year, they took all their wins this year. The way they were beat up, they weren't supposed to win this many games. But guys were physically prepared, mentally prepared, and they've dominated."
Selected with the 77th overall pick in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Casey missed only five contests during his time with the Titans. Casey earned a Pro Bowl berth each season from 2015 to 2019, joining Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins and Fletcher Cox as the NFL's only defensive linemen to do so. He became the seventh player in franchise history and the first player in the organization's "Titans era" (1999 to present) to be named to five consecutive Pro Bowls.
Casey said he's watched defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons and linebacker Harold Landry blossom, and he's been impressed by what he's seen from defensive limeman Denico Autry and outside linebacker Bud Dupree, and others.
"That front four is unreal," Casey said. "It kind of reminds you back in 2014 when me, Rak (Brian Orakpo) and Morg (Derrick Morgan) were going crazy, getting sack after sack.
"To see those guys come together, a mixture of veterans and young guys, it's great. Jeffery Simmons has taken over that d-line room and got those guys with the right mindset. They are attacking across the board, and getting it done. I love watching those guys and can't wait to see them play on Saturday."
After 10 NFL seasons, nine of which were spent with the Titans, Casey officially retired from the NFL on Thursday at a press conference at Nissan Stadium.