|The office of player development is open for players seeking guidance in a number of off-the-field areas.|
That's right, 53.
What if they were all boys, and all played football?
Well, that would require a lot of care to give and stained jerseys to wash.
Essentially, that is the role Tina Tuggle, director of player development, proudly embraces but without all the cleaning duties.
She is currently in her 13th year with the organization, and third as director of player development. Tuggle began her tenure with the Titans organization as a receptionist. Next, she became the executive assistant to former general manager Floyd Reese. Since her promotion to director of player development, Tuggle's program has been recognized by the NFL for tremendous improvement since her arrival. During the 2007-2008 season, she even won the NFL's Best Player's Assistance Program of the Year award. Tuggle was recently asked to join the NFL Player Development Steering Committee, which primarily focuses on providing players with advice and counseling on matters related to off-field support for players and their families.
Her office is conveniently adjacent to the players' locker room, which is accessible for anyone who needs assistance. Not only does Tuggle have an open-door policy, she has open ears and an open heart. "Player development was designed to help guys with anything that does not specifically deal with what happens on the field," said Tuggle.
Tuggle handles a large amount of responsibilities for players, encompassing financial/insurance assistance, family counseling, coordinating internships and providing educational information to acquire graduate or professional degrees. She helps the players with everything from basic check writing to establishing an estate plan. Tuggle coordinates with Dr. Sheila Peters, the team's clinician who is available to the players for counseling – whether it is an individual or with the entire family. If a player wants to complete an alternative career internship, Tuggle will locate an appropriate match, no matter the location. For the ones who left college prior to graduating, they have the tools through Tuggle to complete their degree. There are an abundant amount of tools available to alleviate any situation or conflict a player may find themselves in.
"One of the big things I try to pride myself on is being a resource center. If I don't have the answer – I'll get the answer, or I'll know someone that might have the answer. I try to be their one-stop shop," she said.
As a professional athlete, endless opportunities are available to you. Tuggle stresses to the players to take advantage of the opportunity they have in front of them. She said, "Whether it is through me, community relations, marketing or coaching, whatever it is that you aspire to be when you leave here, learn as much as you can. There are so many people in this place that get great joy in helping you. Let those people do that – it makes them happy and it helps you in the long run. Don't walk away with nothing – we have too many resources for you to walk away empty-handed."
Open Ears, Open Heart
Tuggle's door is always open for players to stop by, and they quite frequently take advantage of it. Her motherly demeanor has allowed strong relationships to develop with the players. "I really try hard not to have an intimidating presence. I want my office to be one that is welcoming to everybody. So whether it is something serious, or fun, regardless of what it is, I want them to feel secure bringing it to me. I want them to know that it is confidential and I'm going to help them with whatever they need," she said.
Players like Michael Griffin often go to Tuggle. "She is like a mother figure away from home," Griffin said. "She's always there on call whenever I need her. She's a great person, and I'm glad she's with the organization. I hope she's here for as long as I'm here. She has a son and just knows the right things to say when you're going through issues."
Rookie Sen'Derrick Marks said Tuggle has most certainly helped him with his transition into the NFL. "You are able to go in there with an open mind, and you know that your information isn't going to leave that room. Just being able to talk to her has really helped my transition moving here," he said.
When asked if she had any problem children, Tuggle smiled and commented, "Never, not a single one. They are all darling little angels. We have fun and they definitely give me a hard time. But I believe that's because they love me. I've got my little problem children, but I love them all the same," she said.
Cortland Finnegan might fall into the problem child category, because when asked about his relationship with Tuggle he joked, "I don't even like that woman." He quickly admitted the falsity of his previous statement and truthfully replied, "No really, she has been my backbone helping me out the past three years with everything from security issues to banking issues and other needs. Mainly, just being a friend. Mrs. Tuggle has been there for me. She's been great, and is a wonderful woman. She stands for everything that a Titan woman should stand for. She's been great with player development and helping everyone come along and nurturing them as youngsters."