NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The "C" patch. Six players – the captains – are elected to wear it on each NFL team. And each Sunday, the patch is proudly displayed on select uniforms.
But if you haven't noticed, the Titans captains aren't wearing the "C" patch this season.
"A lot of guys just wanted to keep it a team-first situation,'' explained defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, who was voted one of the team's captains the week before the regular season opener. "We are not wearing the Cs, and it's something we all voted on.
"It is different, but it shows unity. It shows we're all the same, we're all one, and we can all lead this team no matter what."
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he was impressed with the decision. Players voted not to wear the "C" patch even before they voted on the 2016 captains.
In addition to Casey, linebacker Brian Orakpo was voted as a defensive captain. Tight end Delanie Walker and quarterback Marcus Mariota were voted as the team's offensive captains, while linebacker Wesley Woodard and safety Daimion Stafford were selected as special teams captains.
In 2007, the NFL instituted a program that allowed each team to designate up to six captains per season. Chosen players are regularly honored with a "C" on their jerseys, and stars on the patch are filled in for each year of service as a captain.
Players who have been named a team captain typically have a "C" patch on their jerseys.
But not the Titans. The Patriots have also chosen not to wear the "C" patch over the years.
"The players decided they didn't want to stand out different from their teammates,'' Mularkey said. "If you noticed they didn't want to get announced individually either (before the home opener), they came out as a team. And they're going to come out as a team again this week. They don't want to be looked at as individuals."
Mularkey said he talks to the players regularly, and wants them to have a voice in decisions.
Titans veteran safety Rashad Johnson, in his eighth NFL season, said he's never been on a team where captains didn't wear the "C" patch. He said it speaks to the veteran leadership, and togetherness, of the team. Casey was also a captain in 2014 and 2015, and he wore a "C" patch those years, along with the team's other captains.
"I think that is huge, and it does say a lot about this team, that no one is above it,'' Johnson said. "We want to all blend in together and do the job together. We understand there are a lot of leaders here, not just five or six guys. There's a healthy group of veteran leaders that help carry the weight."
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn, Amber Harding)