NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A fourth-round draft pick by the Titans in the 2010 NFL Draft, cornerback Alterraun Verner had some pretty modest goals as he first set foot in Tennessee.
Verner was confident in his abilities. But he also realized nothing was guaranteed.
"My dream was just to play in the NFL," Verner said. "I guess I wasn't expecting too much. I knew I was coming to a team with an opening to compete for a starting job. But I was just trying to make the team as a special teams person at the start. To have things unfold for me the way they did, to be able to play and contribute as a rookie, and to eventually end up being a Pro Bowler. ... It's something I never thought would happen."
On Wednesday, Verner signed a one-day contract and officially retired as a Titan. Verner, who also played for the Buccaneers and Dolphins during his eight-year NFL career, said his time in Tennessee was special.
"The place that felt the most like home to me was always Tennessee, and that was mainly because of the fans and the players I played with," Verner said. "Some of the best friends I still talk to today – Jason McCourty, Coty Sensabaugh, Jurrell Casey, Robert Johnson, who I was drafted with. And the fans were always the best. I was able to write on the blog for Music City Miracles and I really felt like I was a big part of things. … I just had a lot of great memories there."
Verner played four seasons (2010-13) for the Titans and became just the third cornerback (Samari Rolle and Cortland Finnegan) in the Titans era (1999-present) to earn Pro Bowl honors following his 2013 season.
During his Titans career, Verner totaled 64 games played, 11 interceptions, two forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and two touchdown returns. Overall for his NFL career, he played eight seasons (125 games) and tallied 15 interceptions.
Today, Verner lives south of Los Angeles, with his wife and three young boys. He was recently accepted to a graduate program for teaching, and he plans to get his master's degree. His goal is to teach mathematics, his major at UCLA, at a high school.
On Wednesday morning, Verner took a red-eye to Nashville for today's signing. His press conference was on Wednesday afternoon.
Before leaving, he reminisced about his time in Tennessee. He shared even more stories during his presser at Saint Thomas Sports Park, where former teammate Marc Mariani was in attendance.
Among Verner's fondest moments included his first career interception, against Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo during his rookie year. He recalled the season-opening win at Pittsburgh in 2013, when he also had a pick, and his first career defensive touchdown in a win over the Lions in 2013.
He also remembered all the good times with his teammates off the field, from the pranks to the laughs.
"At holiday parties, the team always tried to get me to dance to Michael Jackson songs because they knew I was a big fan," he said. "They all cleared the dance floor every time they put on "Thriller" or "Beat It"."
When he returned to Nashville for the team's Homecoming weekend last fall, Verner was blown away by the warmth he felt from the fans.
"I was thinking, 'Man, I've been gone for five or six years, and I don't even have a jersey on," Verner said. "But a lot of fans recognized me, and it just blew my mind. The support I had from the fans from the get-go, I always appreciated it."
Verner left the Titans to sign with the Buccaneers following the 2013 season.
While he didn't have the same success in his three seasons in Tampa Bay, or during his one year in Miami, he doesn't regret his professional decisions. In other cities, he felt he was able to make an impact on younger teammates, and in other communities.
"I wouldn't change anything that happened," Verner said. "God put me in those situations for a reason. The on-field production didn't go quite as I wanted but I felt there were other things I was able to do."
As he planned for his trip to Nashville, Verner could hardly believe how fast it all went.
He enjoyed every step of the way.
"It flew by, and I can still remember everything," Verner said. "Me and Kenny Britt had so many battles in training camp my rookie year, and I credit him as a big reason for me being able to play at the level I was able to play at my rookie year.
"But it does fly by, and that's why my advice to everybody is: Enjoy it while you have it because you never know when it is going to end. You have to enjoy every moment."
Former Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner (2010-13) officially announced his NFL retirement where he started his professional career Wednesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn, Jourdan Gottlieb)
TitansOnline.com looks back at the career of former Titans CB Alterraun Verner, who played in Tennessee from 2010-13 and announced his NFL retirement this week. (AP Photos)