PHOENIX, Ariz. – Like millions of others, Titans tight end Delanie Walker watched the emotional video of bullying victim Keaton Jones over the weekend.
And it hit him hard.
"It actually brought tears to my eyes, and I don't cry often," Walker said. "To see something like that happen, to me it is very disturbing. It was hard to watch.
"What went through my mind is I have a son who is 13 years old, and I would hate for him to come home and tell me something like that. I want to talk to (Keaton) and let him know: You can be who you want to be. Just keep your head up and be strong."
Walker and several Titans have expressed an interest in meeting Jones following a weekend when his mother's Facebook post went viral. Walker and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan discussed Jones in the locker room following the team's game on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., against the Cardinals.
Kimberly Jones said in a Facebook post Friday she had just picked up her son, Keaton, from school because he was too afraid to go to lunch.
In the video, the sixth-grader at Horace Maynard Middle School in East Tennessee describes having milk poured on him and ham put down his clothes at lunch.
"Just out of curiosity, why do they bully?" Keaton said. "What's the point of it? Why do they find joy in taking innocent people and find a way to be mean to them? It's not OK.
"People that are different don't need to be criticized about it. It's not their fault. If you are made fun of, just don't let it bother you."
In recent days, the video has prompted a wave of support from athletes and entertainers.
Walker, the team's two-time Pro Bowl tight end, posted a video on social media on Saturday inviting Keaton to one of the team's games in December. Lewan also sent this message via social media: "Please help me and the Titans get Keaton's information. We will not tolerate bullying. I'll be seeing you real soon Keaton."
Linebacker Brian Orakpo and several others Titans have reached out as well.
Lewan said after Sunday's game he wants to meet Keaton soon. The video made an impact on him, he said.
"For him to be able to speak as strongly as he did as a victim of bullying, it sits really deep with me, for two separate reasons," Lewan said. "One, I have been victim of bullying, when I was in high school. I have been made fun of for being different. Even in the NFL, I get made fun of for being different -- a different offensive lineman, a different attitude, a different guy, etc …
"And I am not too proud to say it, but I have been on the other end, too, being a bully. It is not something I am proud of, but it is a reality of my past. You go back … I took some kid's iPod in middle school … and I ended up on probation. I was 13 years old, making terrible choices that put me in the wrong direction in life. So to see a kid like that, it breaks my heart…"
Lewan called Keaton "a special kid." Since the video was posted on social media, celebrities, athletes and the public have used the hashtag #StandWithKeaton with posts.
University of Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano met with Jones on Sunday.
"I am going to meet him," Lewan said of Keaton. "I have a big plan in my head, and hopefully I can get it all together. I know Delanie offered tickets to him and his family. I'd like to meet him and have a sit-down conversation with him and let him know it's OK.
"People who are put in positions of adversity like that tend to grow into something beautiful and I expect him to do the same. If there's anything I can do to help his family or anyone else who is being bullied, that's what I plan to do."
Walker said his message to Keaton, and anyone being bullied, is to stay strong.
"And this young man is strong," Walker said of Keaton. "If you watch the video, he is telling you, 'I am going to be strong.' He wanted to spread that so guys that are in his situation that are getting bullied, they can be strong.
"My message is to let him know: He motivated me, and I just wanted to let him know how I felt."