FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Nearly five years after his father's death, Brian Heimerdinger still gets quizzed about his dad.
"Everybody asks me, 'What was your dad like?','' Brian Heimerdinger said on Friday. "And I always tell them: He loved golf, he loved football and he loved my family. He really loved his family."
All three were together on Friday at the Drive for Dinger Golf Tournament at the Legends Golf Club in Franklin. The event honors longtime NFL coach and former Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who lost his battle with cancer in 2011.
Members of the Heimerdinger family were there, surrounded by the coach's friends from the NFL community, from coaches to players to other celebrities. Jets coach Todd Bowles and longtime NFL head coach Mike Shanahan were among those scheduled to attend the two-day fundraiser, which includes a dinner and celebrity auction on Saturday.
Former Titans Kevin Dyson, Zach Piller, Benji Olson, Kevin Carter, Michael Roos and Mike Otto were among those on hand, along with former Titans special teams coach Alan Lowry. Roughly a half-dozen current players also played in today's event. Jets receiver Brandon Marshall also made the trip for the fifth annual event. So did Vince Neil, lead singer for Motley Crue.
"I'll always be a part of this,'' Carter said. "I'm not too good of a golfer, but I'll be here to hack it out for coach Dinger. We're all here to raise awareness and raise money."
The event raises money for the foundation's Meals 4 Health and Healing Program. This program delivers healthy, organic meals to patients undergoing cancer treatments and their families at no cost.
"The group we have, it is always great to get them together,'' said Brian Heimerdinger, director of player personnel for the New York Jets. "The support is not only from the Nashville community, it's amazing how many people come to the event from across the country. I think it speaks to the man (my father) was, the person he was.
"The Meals for Health and Healing has grown organically. It has grown steadily, slowly but surely. We actually passed 25,000 meals this year. We've served 25,000 meals patients in the Nashville community (over the last four years)."
Mike Heimerdinger was a former offensive coordinator for the Titans, Broncos and Jets. He died in September 2011 after a nearly year-long battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 58.
Heimerdinger helped the late Steve McNair earn NFL co-MVP honors in 2003 and was part of three playoff teams in his first five seasons at Tennessee.
Brian Heimerdinger said he regularly meets his dad's friends while on the road.
"In scouting you travel around and meet so many people and you go to so many schools, and every place there's a coach that as a story about my dad, a guy that knew him,'' Heimerdinger said. "People tell me stories about him not as a coach, but the kind of the guy he was. And I think the Nashville community and everybody that supports him, they do it because of that."
A high school athlete at Brentwood High, Brian Heimerdinger has many lasting memories of his father. During the course of the weekend, he's certain to hear more stories about his dad.
"He always wanted you to compete in everything you do,'' he said. "(My dad) never told you what you did well, he picked at what you were doing wrong, and that's how he coached too. He tried to make his players better. And I got that as a kid. I look back now and I couldn't be more thankful for the upbringing, all the hard times and how he rode me.
"I was always so proud of him. The coaching lifestyle, it's hard on families because it's a job that takes up so much of a person's time. But I think he missed only one of my games in high school, and looking back at it now that I am in the profession, that's amazing to me. He was always so dedicated to the family."