NASHVILLE – As Brett Kern watched the NFL Draft in Nashville last month, it took him back to 2008.
"It was kind of surreal," the Titans punter said. "I remember draft day like it was yesterday, and just thinking: If I can get picked up by a team to try and play for maybe one or two years I'd be so thankful for that."
Kern wasn't selected in the draft back then. Instead, he signed as an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos. Halfway through his second NFL season, Kern was waived, and was claimed by the Titans.
While on the Titans Caravan last week, Kern reflected on just how far he's come -- while also looking at what's ahead.
"When I came to Nashville, after being cut, I never wanted to experience that feeling again," he said. "I just knew that I was going to do whatever it took to keep my job, to work harder than the next guy to save my job and to try and play here as long as I can. Looking back from being not drafted and now going into my 12th year after just signing a new contract, it is just a huge blessing and I am thankful for it."
Yes, Kern is still going strong. And he wants to keep going, and going.
Kern is coming off his second straight Pro Bowl appearance, and this offseason he signed a new long-term deal with the team. Kern averaged 47.1 yards a punt in 2018, including a 41.7-yard net. He pinned 39 punts down inside the 20, with only three touchbacks.
It followed a year when Kern led the NFL and set a franchise record in punting average (49.7) and net average (44.6), with 28 pinned down inside the 20 and only five touchbacks. The 49.7-yard average ranked eighth in NFL history and was the highest of any player since 2012.
Kern owns the top seven net punting seasons in franchise history and eight of the team's top 10 net punting seasons.
Kern has used the first part of this offseason to relax his punting leg, while spending time with his family. He's been working out, but just recently starting punting footballs again as he gears up for 2019.
"I know I can always get better, really in everything that I do," Kern said. "I go back and look at the directional punting that we do … and I look at my tendencies. I try and mix it up. I don't want to be just going right or just going left. There's always something I can get better at. If it's trying to get a team inside the 7 or 8-yard line instead of last year it might have been at the 12-yard line, that would be an improvement. Four or five yards is really big, so there is always something I can get better at and improve upon going off of last year."
As Kern looks ahead to 2019, he looks back to when he first entered the league.
After initially hoping he'd play a year or two in the NFL, he now sounds like a guy who'd love to play forever.
"I feel great, being done with my 11th year," Kern said. "I feel really good, my body feels good, I still feel like I have some really good pop in my leg and I feel like I am playing better than I ever have.
"I just want to keep that going, and I want to be one of the best punters ever to punt in the NFL, be one of the best directional punters ever to play in the NFL. But also I want to be known as a great guy in the locker room, a man of faith, and have people know what I stand for: The family man and the husband that I am. I am just trying to leave a legacy, and I am going to play as long as the Lord allows me to play."
TitansOnline.com looks back at punter Brett Kern's Pro Bowl season in 2018. (AP Photos)
Ryan Succop, Brett Kern, Jayon Brown, Rashaan Evans and Sharif Finch headlined Day 3 of the 2019 Academy Sports + Outdoors Titans Caravan in Sparta and Mt. Juliet, Tenn. (Photos: Susanna Nickel)