NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On Sunday at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, nearly 400 people experienced what it's like to play football in an NFL stadium.
Those people were competing in Music City Blitz, a flag football fundraiser hosted by the Titans to benefit Special Olympics Tennessee.
Heavy rain cut the tournament short before champions in each of the four divisions –Top Gun, recreational, co-ed and 35 – were crowned but every team left with an experience.
Entry into the tournament guaranteed each of the 23 teams at least three games on the field at Nissan Stadium, as well as a tour of the Titans locker room and the opportunity to meet former Titans players Brad Hopkins, Chris Hope, Zach Piller and Chris Sanders.
To kick off the tournament, each team was announced over the PA system before entering the field through the inflatable helmet – the same way the players are introduced on Sundays. During the tournament, the stadium's video boards showed replays and highlights.
"A lot of smiles – from the Special Olympians faces to the guys who are here to participate," said Josh Corey, Tennessee Titans Football Outreach Coordinator. "It's been a really, really great experience to see these guys come out of the helmet and the tunnel and [they are] having a lot of fun. We're honored to be a part of an event for such a great cause."
Proceeds raised through the tournament – nearly $30,000 – will help Special Olympics Tennessee fund the 2017 Special Olympics State Summer Games this May, providing the opportunity for more than 1,000 Special Olympics athletes to compete in 7 sports.
"This partnership has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for fundraisers and Special Olympics athletes while generating much-needed funds to support Special Olympics Tennessee's mission," said Adam Adam Germek, Chief Operating Officer of Special Olympics Tennessee. "Every football player's dream growing up is to play on an NFL field and the Titans organization made this dream come true for 400 excited adults."
The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.
Click here for more information on Special Olympics Tennessee, including ways you can get involved.
Nearly 400 people competed in Music City Blitz, a flag football fundraiser hosted by the Titans to benefit Special Olympics Tennessee. (Photos: Special Olympics Tennessee)