Byard vows to stay humble following big payday

Byard vows to stay humble following big payday

When Kevin Byard came to the podium to discuss his new $70 million contract extension with the Tennessee Titans, he wore a black t-shirt with the words “PRAYED FOR THIS” emblazoned across the chest.
For Byard, in talking about going from being a non-Combine invitee in 2016 to being the highest paid safety in the NFL, was truly a remarkable accomplishment and one that he thanked God for helping make his dream become a reality.
“It’s surreal honestly. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” the former Middle When Kevin Byard came to the podium to discuss his new $70 million contract extension with the Tennessee Titans, he wore a black t-shirt with the words “PRAYED FOR THIS” emblazoned across the chest.

For Byard, in talking about going from being a non-Combine invitee in 2016 to being the highest paid safety in the NFL, was truly a remarkable accomplishment and one that he thanked God for helping make his dream become a reality.

“It’s surreal honestly. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” the former Middle Tennessee State standout said. “From the humble beginnings that I come from, being in my dorm room or my student apartment at Middle Tennessee, honestly I could have never imagined I would be in this position. Don’t get me wrong. I prayed for it and I envisioned it. But to see it happen, to see it come to fruition is a testament to honesty, just believing in yourself and staying humble.”

Byard, who had eight interceptions and a Pro Bowl selection in 2017, has developed into one of the NFL’s top safeties. He has 228 career tackles and 64 passes defensed in his three seasons to go along with 12 interceptions.

He said that the big payday will not change how he approaches the game, calling it “the beginning.”

“My mindset is that I’m going to go out there and earn every single dollar, every single penny,” he said. “I want to thank (GM) Jon (Robinson) and (controlling owner) Amy (Adams Strunk) for believing in me, and I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing. I’m staying humble and really nothing’s changed but the change.”

Titans head coach Mike Vrabel emphasized that point when talking about Byard and the mega-contract.

“I think that’s what everybody works for. I think you work that, your family. It’s an exciting time for his family, for his wife and for Kevin (Byard),” Vrabel said. “Like Kevin said, I believe him. The only thing that’s changed is the change. Whether you get one big contract, you play this game long enough, you’re going to be able to do a lot of things that other people can’t. But, it’s about coming to work every day, staying consistent in that attitude and your desire to improve. Your leadership can’t change because you got a couple extra zeros at the end of your paycheck.”

Robinson said the Titans liked Byard from the time they began scouting him his senior year at MTSU and that he has matured into a star before their very eyes.
“Obviously, we’ve always liked Kevin. Some have asked me, ‘What about his play at Middle Tennessee really stood out?’ I always say, ‘You don’t stumble into 19 interceptions in college.’ When I talked to him last night on the phone, I told him nothing here is given, everything here is earned,” Robinson said. “He came in as a rookie and was a special teams player, and a role player defensively. Earned a starting spot second year, was a starter and a Pro Bowl player, and then last year really matured, became more of a vocal presence for us and still a really good playmaker back there. To have him in a Titans uniform for several years to come was pretty important. Just really proud of certainly the player he is on the field, but more importantly the person he is in this community, the husband he is, and the soon-to-be father he will be.”

Byard’s wife is expecting their first child, a daughter, in September.

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