Spring 2021 Magazine

Linebacker Wesley Woodyard strives to walk with God as Titans make unexpected playoff run

For the second consecutive week, the Tennessee Titans have shocked the football world with another road win against one of the NFL’s best teams. The Titans went into M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., on Saturday and outplayed the Ravens on their way to a 28-12 victory.

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This win comes a week after another upset road victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the wildcard round. Tennessee was 9-7 during the regular season and the last team into the AFC playoffs, while Baltimore was 14-2 and the top seed.

Led by three total touchdowns from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and 195 rushing yards from running back Derrick Henry, the Titans had built a 22-point lead by the third quarter. Defensively, they were able to do what few teams this season could: slow down Baltimore’s MVP favorite, quarterback Lamar Jackson. He had two interceptions and the Ravens were only able to muster one touchdown offensively.

Wesley Woodyard, an important piece at linebacker for the Titans, contributed five tackles in the impressive defensive effort.

Woodyard has been a fixture in Tennessee’s linebacker rotation ever since he signed with the team before the 2014 season. And while he has certainly helped build up the Titans’ defense on the field, his off-the-field leadership has been just as vital. His teammates have voted him as a captain every year of his NFL career.

In addition to his role as captain, Woodyard has also served as one of the team’s spiritual leaders. During the middle of last season, he approached the Titans’ chaplain, James Mitchell, with a request, but received more than he had asked.

“I was thinking I was asking about leading Bible study, preparing for the small group, and he was like, ‘No my brother, you said chapel.’ So I went from thinking I would speak to about 10 guys to speaking to about 30 guys,” Woodyard remembered on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2018.

He spoke about the Biblical figure of Enoch, how he walked faithfully with God, and how all believers are called to as well.

Woodyard grew up attending church but truly gave his life to Christ a few years ago at a conference organized by Pro Athletes Outreach.

“My life has completely changed ever since then,” he said in the Fall 2019 edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. “It’s been tough and it’s also been a breath of fresh air knowing that God has my back, and no matter what, I already have the victory.”

Woodyard, 33, went undrafted out of Kentucky in 2008 but signed with the Denver Broncos and played there for six seasons. He is now in his sixth with Tennessee as well. Overall, he has accumulated 951 total tackles, 28 sacks and eight interceptions. He is considered one of the best players in the league never to have made the Pro Bowl.

The Titans take to the road again this Sunday, as they prepare to take on Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Kansas City for the AFC championship game at 3:05 p.m. ET. It is a rematch from Week 10 of the regular season, a game the Titans won 35-32 thanks to a dramatic last-second field goal block.

Another win on Sunday would put Tennessee in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999.

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