NASHVILLE – Titans cornerback Logan Ryan is known as the "Dog Whisperer."
His teammates ask him about anything from tricks to behavior to potty training, or really anything to do with dogs.
"They always think I can fix all their dog's problems," Ryan said with a smile. "I try and send them to my wife – she does that."
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has two dogs and yes, he's hit up Ryan.
"He actually helped me kind of figure out potty training," Mariota said.
Ryan and his wife, Ashley, mainly want to help animals – dogs and cats – through their work with the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation. And over the weekend, they took another big step in doing so with their first ChowDown! Foodie Gala Event.
The event's goal, Ryan said, was to raise $100,000 through donations and an auction. The event sold out at the Bell Tower in downtown Nashville, and it raised around $160,000, according to event organizers.
"The South has been great to me," said Ryan, who joined the Titans in 2017 after playing four seasons with the Patriots. "There's a lot of great people down here. I think that's something I worked really hard on, trying to make an impact off the field as much as I do on it. I work really hard on the field. I feel like I can always challenge myself to do more off of it and to give back, give my money back, give my time back. … Nashville has embraced me 100 percent and embraced animal rescue, and it always has. I am happy, and I feel like I am in the right place with this."
Ryan and his wife adopted their first dog back in college at Rutgers. He said he's always loved pets. Back then, Ashley worked at a shelter and spent countless hours with the animals, so when Ryan entered the NFL he wanted to do more himself. He's used his platform to take picture and raise money for the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation, which "is dedicated to supporting the animal community with financial and educational resources." The foundation partners with animal welfare organizations around the world promoting adoption, offering grants and education to better the lives of animals.
A year ago, the Ryans donated $100,000 of their own money, and they've been thrilled to see the support from the community. The Ryans have three rescue dogs of their own.
"(Animals) don't have a voice for themselves," Ryan said. "Every cause is great, but this is a cause where they can't speak for themselves and what they need, and I feel like I can be someone to speak for them."
The ChowDown! Event hosted over 350 guests, and it featured a culinary competition between 16 local restaurants. Ryan, Mariota, safety Kevin Byard and center Ben Jones were among the celebrity judges. Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk presented the Chow Down "Dog-bardi" championship trophy to Hattie B's at the end of the event.
Jones and Byard said they've been inspired by Ryan's cause, and effort in spreading the word.
"It's been amazing," Jones said. "Just giving these dogs a second chance. So many times, these dogs just need a home. … I see the way his kids interact with the dogs and animals and how much they care about the animals."
Byard has two dogs himself.
"Logan, he's an awesome guy, an incredible guy," Byard said. "What he is doing, and what he has done for dogs. His foundation, and what him and his wife are doing, it is incredible. I've talked to him all the time about the different things he's doing. He's just an incredible human being overall."
Ryan plans to continue pushing his message in the locker room and in the community.
Logan and Ashley Ryan co-founded the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation two years ago, and 100 percent of the proceeds raised Friday night by RARF went to charity.
For more information on the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation, visit: HERE.
"I just think that every dog deserves an opportunity," Ryan said. "Nothing's wrong with (adopting) a puppy or anything like that. I just think some of these animals tend to get overlooked. … These animals aren't damaged goods. I think they deserve more attention. I think someone should speak up for them, and that's what I'm doing. And I think they have just a huge heart and they unite families like they united mine. I have two large pitbulls and I have young kids and they're best friends. So I just really think a lot of the stereotypes with rescue animals, pitbulls in particular, (aren't true).
"A lot of our teammates have rescue animals. A lot of our team is huge dog and cat lovers. So it's definitely growing on people."