Ken Whisenhunt said it felt like victory.
That assessment was a bit premature but it certainly is the goal.
Following Wednesday’s workout the Tennessee Titans took part – as a team – in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in support of former teammate Tim Shaw, who went public Tuesday with the fact that earlier this year he had been diagnosed with the ailment more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“I’ve had a couple of those before and hopefully I’ll have a couple more of those,” Whisenhunt, the Titans coach, said. “I got them after games. That’s what it felt like.
“But let’s not minimize that. It’s an important cause. It’s a terrible disease. I have a lot of respect for Tim. It’s horrible that he has to go through this but anything we can do to raise awareness for it, to help get a cure that’s important.”
Shaw said he first started to experience symptoms during 2012, the last of his three seasons with the Titans. He classified the early symptoms as trembling in his arms and legs and a loss of athleticism. Tennessee waived him following last summer’s training camp. He previously spent one year each with Carolina, Jacksonville and Chicago.
He is the latest of several former NFL players stricken with the disease, for which there is no cure. New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, Baltimore Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance and Philadelphia Eagles fullback Kevin Turner all have been public in their battles with the illness.
Shaw conceded that football might have contributed to his situation and called for continuing education on the effects of head trauma that happens in the sport. However, he said he did not blame the game.
“Not a single regret,” he said. “God built me to play seven years in the NFL,” he said. “I never missed a game. I never had a surgery – tell me that’s not a miracle in itself. I believe that God has built this body in a way to withstand something like this and to fight something like this. That’s my driving force. If I didn’t believe that I would be an absolute mess.”
Shaw officially was diagnosed in late April and revealed his situation to the world Wednesday when he issued the Ice Bucket Challenge, the social media campaign that has raised more than $30 million and a lot of awareness for ALS, the franchise to the Titans and his college football program, Penn State.
“I think that really meant a lot to Tim and we were glad to be a part something like that,” linebacker Derrick Morgan said of the Titans’ response. “It was definitely a good experience overall to be out there as a team and to be with Tim.”
Shaw was on hand for the happening. Numerous players and staff members greeted him individually afterward.
“I’m happy,” he said. “I feel very loved and I feel very humbled, humbled to be shown that type of demonstration.
“... (The Ice Bucket Challenge) pushed me a little bit. Really, just the inspiration I got from it and from everybody who’s doing it and the meaning of it. I just thought, ‘What an opportunity for me to tell my story and (stop) living a secret life and having to walk around holding that in.
“… I am not scared to die but the process is a little daunting. So emotionally, I’ve just really tried to let things out and be real and deal with things as they come.”