Hometown Hero Wilson Returns as Titan
By Levi Holsapple
PADUCAH, KY - A local mother was all smiles and cheers on Friday afternoon as the police escorted Tennessee Titans Caravan rolled into Paducah’s mall area.
Wanda Wilson, mother of hometown hero George Wilson, was at the front of the line to greet the players as they stepped off the bus in front of Shoe Carnival. Wilson recently signed with the Titans after eight successful years with the Buffalo Bills.
Wilson was thrilled as the Caravan made the exit off Interstate 24 into Paducah. “When we exited off to get over to Shoe Carnival, I got chills.” He said it was unlike anything he has ever experienced and it truly felt like a homecoming.
Now that he is closer to home, the Paducah Tilghman graduate is hoping to be more involved and active in the community. He said his mother, Wanda, is ecstatic because the short drive to Nashville will allow her to tailgate at all eight home games the Titans have planned this season.
Alongside NFL safety, George Wilson, came his teammate, tight end Delanie Walker. The teammates gradually made their way inside taking numerous photos with fans and shaking hands along the way. Eventually they took their seats and began signing autographs on shoes, shirts, signs, and footballs.
The caravan stop was scheduled to last one hour, but by the time Wilson and Walker happily signed every autograph and posed for the last photo, the event wrapped up more than two hours later.
After hundreds of eager fans had made their way through the zigzagged line, a loud and proud mother of Tennessee Titans George Wilson began to lead the crowd in a cheer of “Let’s go Titans, lets go!”, as Wilson and Walker made their way to the door.
Broadcaster Mike Keith, the "voice of the Titans" and caravan travelling companion, said the scene of George's "rock star" treatment in Paducah was one of the top ten Titans Caravan moments he had ever experienced.
Fans had the opportunity to meet players, mascot T-Rac and Keith. Posters were provided at no cost to all caravan attendees for autographs, and photos were encouraged.
The caravan began on April 29 and is scheduled through May 10, including 44 stops in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. In addition to the public gatherings, the Titans will perform 22 school programs throughout the region that are expected to reach approximately 12,000 students. The program is based on the NFL's Play 60 initiative, which encourages youth to get at least 60 minutes of active play each day.
The school program delivers a high-energy, educational message from eight-time Pro Bowl Titans mascot T-Rac, host Rhett Bryan and representatives from Tennessee State Parks. A Titans player also typically appears. In addition to the Play 60 elements, audience members receive a message about making good choices in all parts of their lives. They also get up-close looks at Tennessee wildlife in the care of Tennessee State Parks, as well as information on nearby state parks.
Titans Caravan began in 1998 as a small effort to spread goodwill through the region. Today, seven full-time staffers travel with Titans players and T-Rac through the Mid-South on a specially-decorated motor coach provided by Grand Avenue. Since 1998, the Caravan has made over 750 stops, visited more than 300 schools and allowed the team to interact directly with an estimated audience well in excess of 120,000 fans.