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HomeNewsTennessee Titans Paid a Surprise Visit to Clarksville's Northeast Middle School

Tennessee Titans Paid a Surprise Visit to Clarksville’s Northeast Middle School

Bill Larson and Jerry Blessing of the Tennessee Titans contributed to this story

Clarksville, TNFuel Up to Play 60The Clarksville-Montgomery County School System played host to a visit from the Tennessee Titans and Tennessee State Parks at Northeast Middle School on Wednesday as part of the NFL’s Play 60 Initiative.

Designed to tackle childhood obesity, NFL PLAY 60 brings together the NFL’s long-standing commitment to health and fitness with an impressive roster of partner organizations which in Tennessee includes the Tennessee State Parks, American Heart Association of Middle Tennessee and is focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.

Jerry Blessing the Tennessee Titans Community Relations Coordinator and Safety Jordan Babineaux talking to the kids at Northeast Middle School
Jerry Blessing the Tennessee Titans Community Relations Coordinator and Safety Jordan Babineaux talking to the kids at Northeast Middle School

This year the Titans Community Relations Department teamed up with the Tennessee State Parks, American Heart Association, and the Southeast Dairy Association to help promote the students participation in the Play 60 program. The school visit is a one-hour program that incorporates interactive videos with coaches, players and student participation.

“We been involved with play 60 for a number years,” said Patty Clements, the communications director for the American Heart Association, Greater Nashville Market. “We are one of Play 60’s national partners. Our interest in it is because we know that physical activity and healthy nutrition goes a very long way towards our help and general health as well.”

Clements spoke about the issue driving Play 60, “We also know that our kids are facing a childhood obesity crisis, which is unprecedented in our history. It is the first time that this generation of children are expected to live a shorter lifespan than their parents. A great deal of that is driven by unhealthy lifestyles such as a lack of physical activity, unhealthy nutrition, and all that.”

Clements continued, “Play 60 is a program that gets to the kids in a way that they can relate to that they’re going to listen to. we’ve seen in a number of programs like Coordinated School Health around the State of Tennessee. Which is one of the best programs in the entire country. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention holds up Tennessee as a model for Coordinated School Health, which also addresses those kinds of issues. We have actually started to see a turnaround in the obesity rate in Tennessee. It’s actually started to slow and possibly even decline. It’s something that you really needed and it’s through the efforts community programs, school programs, and government coming together to put emphasis on living a healthy lifestyle.”

“Tennessee is the first state park system to participate in the NFL’s Play 60 campaign, which features outreach into local schools and communities to engage children with messages and activities that promote outdoor experiences, the natural world, healthy lifestyles and fun.” said  Jessica House an interpretive specialist for the Tennessee State Parks. “Tennessee state parks and the Tennessee Titans have partnered up for the Play 60 initiative, which encourages children to play for 60 minutes each day. Of course, one of the best places to play are at Tennessee’s many state parks, including Dunbar Cave State Natural Area and Port Royal State Park right here in Montgomery County.”

House went on to say, “This is such an amazing opportunity to reach out to these kids here at Northeast Middle School. A lot of our outreach tends to stay in our state parks, but this way we get to come to the school and talk to thousands of kids at one time.  Since January we’ve done this presentation at 80 schools and reached out to over 50,000 students and staff. So it’s a huge outreach for us.”

Jerry Blessing speaks with a Tennessee State Park Ranger
Jerry Blessing speaks with a Tennessee State Park Ranger

Part of the show featured a Tennessee State Parks Ranger with some kind of critter, which on that day happened to be  Sonny, a Bald Eagle from Reelfoot Lake. A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Ranger talked to the kids about the types of things that he does, what kind of job it is, and how you go about becoming a Ranger.

Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Marc Mariani speaking with the students of Northeast Middle School
Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Marc Mariani speaking with the students of Northeast Middle School.

Then the Tennessee Titans took center stage, and the kids got really excited! First up was Jerry Blessing, the Tennessee Titans Community Relations Coordinator who arranged for a Teleconference with Titans Head Coach Mike Munchak followed by another with wide receiver #83 Marc Mariani.

“The students heard from Titans head coach Mike Munchak on the importance of studying hard and being prepared for the big game on Sunday, and how it is much like studying in school and getting ready for a test,” said Blessing. “Marc Mariani delivered the message of how drinking milk is important to keep our bodies and bones healthy and strong.”

Each of the Play 60 visits includes a personal visit from a Tennessee Titans Player who talks to the students; at Northeast Middle School, “the big moment finally came when safety #26 Jordan Babineaux came on stage to surprise everyone, including many of the school staff,” Blessing continued.

Babineaux received a huge welcome as he went around the gymnasium giving high fives to students.  Then he answered several questions about his life growing up in Texas, and as an NFL player.

Jordan Babineaux speaking with the students of Northeast Middle School.
Jordan Babineaux speaking with the students of Northeast Middle School.

One of the questions that was asked of Babineaux was  “If drugs, alcohol or even gangs were a part of your life, could you continue to be a professional athlete?”  His answer brought a big round of applause from the students…

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Following the presentation to the kids Babineaux took a minute to talk with the press.

It’s crazy, you don’t really realize the impact that you have on the kids into you actually see the expressions on the face. When you think about the time that we spend in the time that we take away from doing what were normally do a the course of a day. It’s time well spent.

You would like to touch them all, but you realize the fact is that some of them will be unaffected by what I had to say today. But the ones that do, make you feel like the cause has been won. We’re hoping that the kids will become more interactive and playful spending 60 minutes doing some kind of activity for health and fitness purposes.

For kids who were not able to attend the program. That’s is what I would continue to preach to them. This is a program of health and nutrition, and that’s kind of what were emphasizing the kids to be active, rather than continuing the new trend of video gaming and home activities to instead take advantage and pull them back from situations that lead to childhood obesity.

The NFL highly believes in this program and they put a number of advertising dollars behind it, and are really believers about it. I think the biggest thing is what better way to influence the kids them by pro athletes and people that they look up to his role models. Some of them will some of them won’t, but the fact of the matter is with everything that is going on. The campaign is certainly has made a change in a lot of people’s lives.

Jerry Blessing and Jordan Babineaux talking to the Students of Northeast Middle School. (Photo by Tennessee Titans staff)
Jerry Blessing and Jordan Babineaux talking to the Students of Northeast Middle School. (Photo by Tennessee Titans staff)

Babineaux was given a similar opportunity when he was a young man, and so was happy to have the chance to give back to the community.

When I was in high school there was a guy that came and spoke to us, his name was Mickey Washington , but when you look at people who have had success, you want to take something from them because obviously they’ve done it. They pretty much have a blueprint in some kind of form. It gives you something that is tangible. We see a lot of success stories on TV, but we don’t really get to touch them, feel them, and hear them. So being able to be here and spend the time with the kids and with the impact of being intimate will give them more of a heartfelt feel to the message as far as reaching home with the words.

Blessing held up Babineaux as a role model for his fellow team members, “Babineaux does a lot of work out in the community, he provides a good role model for our rookies to follow.”

After speaking to the media Blessing and Babineaux took a few minutes for a more intimate gathering with a select group of students from the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. All of whom were selected by their teachers based on the students living out the example set by the Northeast Middle School Eagle’s Creed.

“So you’re the leaders of your classroom,” said Babineaux. “You guys have demonstrated the right attitude, the right work ethic, and making good grades. Feel free if you have anything that you want to ask me, except if I’m dating Pamela Anderson; don’t ask me that. I’m not. It’s not true, I don’t know what you may have been told.”

After they finished laughing, the students were then able to ask Babineaux any questions that they liked. The questions ranged from when he started play football, sports that he played in school, and questions about what enabled his success in life.

More about Jordan Babineaux

Tennessee Titans Safety Jordan Babineaux.
Tennessee Titans Safety Jordan Babineaux.
  • Babineaux’s brother Jonathan is an eighth-year defensive tackle with the Atlanta Falcons.
  • The Babineaux brothers are also filmmakers with their own movie production company called Two Brothers Productions.  They released their first feature film in April 2012 entitled “Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day.”  The dramatic thriller had a national limited release in just over 100 AMC theaters around the country. The brothers are executive producers of the film.
  • Babineaux, a broadcasting major at Southern Arkansas, appeared on the Food Network show “Heat Seekers” during the 2011 season.  He joined chefs Roger Mooking and Aarón Sánchez in a fiery face-off with the Satan’s Tongue Hot Chicken entree at Scoreboard Bar and Grill in Nashville.
  • Babineaux, an avid golfer, also appeared on the Golf Channel program “The Golf Fix” during the 2012 offseason.  Host Michael Breed helped Babineaux fine tune his swing so he could drive the ball longer and straighter.
  • Babineaux earned the nickname “Big Play Babs” with several game-saving plays, including two during the Seahawks’ run to Super Bowl XL. The first play came at St. Louis (10/9/05) when he forced Shaun McDonald to fumble late in the fourth quarter on a punt return that allowed Seattle to run out the clock. He saved another game when he intercepted Drew Bledsoe against Dallas (10/23/05) and returned it 25 yards to the Cowboys’ 32-yard line with five seconds remaining in the game. Josh Brown then kicked the game-winning field goal as time ran out.

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