NASHVILLE – Titans cornerback Caleb Farley sat alone at his locker in the final days of the 2023 season, a Bible in his hands, as he readied himself for practice.
When approached, a smile came to his face, which is usually the case for the outwardly upbeat Farley.
Then, Farley shared a secret.
"That's not how I always feel on the inside," Farley said. "But that's how I choose to obey. It's my faith. But I am human, like everybody else. All of this has been incredibly hard, since I have been in the league. But that's what I have been told to do in my book here (the Bible), so that's what I obey. And I do it because it does lighten the burden on me. Inside, it does help me get through these things."
Life hasn't been easy for the 25-year-old Farley, a first-round pick of the Titans in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Back in 2018, Farley lost his mother to breast cancer. In August 2023, his father was killed suddenly in a house explosion in North Carolina due to a natural gas leak. Farley was in Nashville at the time, and he hurried back home following the tragic event.
Farley rejoined the Titans not long after in the fall, and he said having teammates around helped him through it all.
"They've all been a blessing to me," Farley said. "I thank God for every single one of them."
Through it all, Farley has continued to deal with frustration about his health.
Farley didn't play at all in 2023 because of lingering issues related to his back, which now have his career in jeopardy. He spent the whole season on the team's Physically Unable to Perform list, but he was able to practice the last few weeks of the season.
"It forces me to stay out of the past," Farley said of trying to keep a good disposition. "I can't change nothing. I have to stay in the present, because when I think about the past, I get sad. When I think about the future, I get anxious.
"I just stay in the present, and I'm doing my best."
Selected 22nd overall back in 2021, Farley has played in just 12 games over the past two seasons while dealing with injuries. In addition to lingering issues with his back, Farley tore his ACL during his rookie season, which cut that season short.
This past season, Farley was involved with the team, but not available to play because of issues related to a nerve. Farley had back surgery leading up to the draft, and he also had a back surgery in 2022.
"My back is fine," Farley said. "Nothing in my back hurts. But there's a nerve that has been affected at different times that has cause a lack of strength in my left leg. It is an odd situation."
For a second, he went back to the past.
"I wish I could go back to college," Farley said, "when I was doing those heavy ass deadlifts, and never do them."
But Farley quickly went back to looking ahead again.
Three years into his NFL career, Farley now has one year left on his contract.
The general manager who drafted him is gone, and now the only NFL head coach he's ever played for is no longer with the organization either.
Farley can't do anything about any of that, so he plans to keep working, and control what he can control.
"I'm just going to push it," he said. "It's do-or-die for me. It's now or never. I'm just going to push it, and whatever my body allows me to do, my body allows me to do, I'll do. A lot of things are out of my control, but what I can control is my effort and how much I push it. That's what I plan to do.
"I'm going into my last year. I haven't really been able to play at all, healthy anyways. I've been fighting the situation, trying to get healthy for so long. The type of situation I have going on now, no doctors can help me. I don't know what is going to happen with it, if it's going to get better or not. I am just going to empty the tank, put as much effort in as I can and get my body as ready as I can.
"But I still love football," Farley continued. "I always say I am going to play until the wheels fall off, so I am going put in the effort I need to. But I am confident. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could make an impact in this league, and that is what I am here to prove."