NASHVILLE – Members of the Titans rookie class put down their football helmets on Monday, and picked up books.
It was part of the "Titans Rookies Read" story time event at the Nashville Public Library's Bordeaux Branch.
The Titans joined the Governor's Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) to make the hour-long event happen for kids.
"I think it went great," cornerback Elijah Molden said. "I think all of my teammates were getting tired of seeing each other every day, so it was good to get out and see some kids and read to them. Reading is such a big part of my life, and any time I can come help out and answer questions and see the look in their eyes, I am happy to do it."
Molden was one of 13 Titans to take part in the event, aimed to combat learning loss and encourage summer reading in Tennessee.
Titans president and CEO Burke Nihill was on hand, along with GELF president James Pond. T-Rac also entertained.
"Any time you can get kids to see role models like the Titans talking about the importance of reading, I think it is always a win for the kids," Pond said. "I think the stories that we heard from all of the Titans about their reading experiences, their struggles with liking it or hating it, their experiences with family and friends and academics, I think really is an inspiration for kids to understand they are not alone and that even big guys like this that are playing pro ball have the same struggles they do."
The event featured a read-along and Q&A with children on their favorite books and reading habits in support of GELF's "Stop the Slide!" summer reading campaign.
Among the books the Titans read: "Hog Mollies", a book from Titans coach Mike Vrabel's children's book series. The event also supported GELF's K-3 Book Delivery program, which mails books to students and teachers statewide over the summer.
"I hope that these kids leave a little bit more inspired to read," Nihill said. "I was so impressed with our players, their enthusiasm, their thoughtful answers. We've partnered with the Governor's Early Literacy Foundation for a couple of years now, so we are familiar with the statistics.
"For our players to spend their time trying to inspire kids to pick up a book and to read and to get on the journey early, it is an awesome way to spend the morning."
After reading to the kids, the players answered questions, and shared stories of their own reading habits. They also shared stories on their favorite books from childhood.
Defensive back Caleb Farley said his favorite book series as a kid was "Captain Underpants." Outside linebacker Rashad Weaver revealed he loved the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series.
"Whenever I think about this kind of stuff, I get a little teary-eyed, because this is why I play football," Molden said. "My youngest sibling is seven-years old, and he doesn't care that I play football. To him, I am just his big brother. And these kids look up to us, and I'm sure they'll remember (this)."