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Bironas worked hard to get NFL chance

Rob Bironas lived a very good version of the NFL dream.

The former Tennessee Titans kicker, who died in a car crash Saturday night, hardly had a direct route to the NFL.

He started at Auburn and finished at Georgia Southern. Bironas spent time in training camp with the Green Bay Packers in 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004. He spent two seasons in the Arena Football League with the Carolina Cobras and the New York Dragons.

In nine seasons with the Titans, he hit 239 of 279 field goal attempts. He was a first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 2007.

On Dec. 3, 2006 he hit a 60-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Colts in Nashville. He donated his cleats and the football used to make his NFL-record eighth field goal in a 2007 game at Houston to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He loved having made it to the league with such a challenging path and relished his job and the big moments that came with it. And he was regularly clutch.

The Titans cut him in March. He recently worked out for the Detroit Lions.

Sadly, Bironas is the seventh man who played for the Titans, a franchise that started with the new name and in its new stadium in 1999, to die. He joins a list that includes Steve McNair, Rodney Thomas, Todd Williams, Frank Chamberlin, Jesse Mahelona and Damien Nash.

O.J. Murdock and Mario Branch, players who spent time with the franchise but didn’t play in a game, have also passed away.