Despite Mike’s towering frame (he’s 6’4” with the frame to match), he’s grateful and open without an imposing vibe evident anywhere. He’s the youngest and most personable team leader we’ve had yet. It’s his daily living practices, focus on family values, and sense of humor that make up a winning combination of skill and personality on and off the field.

Family Man:

Most of my time outside of work has been about being a husband, raising our two sons, and staying close to home off-season since when the season starts, I am away from everyone and everything most of the time. The boys are now both in college and active in their own sports, so I try to be on board to support and encourage that as much as I possibly can. I jump back and forth from being a father to being a coach – but in both roles, I am advising a younger generation, so there are some similarities for sure. For players and for my own sons, I like being a part of their journey.

Golf Addiction:

A sport I’m active in outside of football is golf. When I first got into the NFL (thinking I was big-time and fancy with my new contract), I played Pebble Beach, which is likely the best course I’ve experienced to date. There hasn’t been a lot of time for visiting famed courses, although Augusta is definitely on my bucket list. To me, Golf is to relax. I like playing with some local guys at the club near our home. The fun comes from the people you are playing with, not how well you play – that’s how I feel about it and treat those rounds as a way to unwind and enjoy friends.

Being on Top:

It’s a cool position to be in, although like with anything, there’s crap you have to go through to keep it all together. I consider it a privilege to be in a role to be trusted with the big things…the major decisions.

Mike Vabrel, team leader of the Tennessee Titans
Photo By: Donald Page/ Tennessee Titans
On Having a ‘Plan B’:

I have had three jobs in my life. I have been a caddy for golfers on the course, I have played football, and have coached football. I’ve never thought about what I would be doing if I weren’t doing this. I have no other business or thoughts about it. My heart and soul are ‘all in’ the game and this industry. I feel blessed that I went straight from retiring as a player into coaching, not experiencing an uncertain future in terms of my career at that point.

On Traits in Team Members:

A solid character is crucial, always. I also believe strongly that loyalty to the whole staff, the players, and the organization is so important. Of course, some position coaches and others are working angles and trying to move up in the industry, but I try to discourage that. I feel like my own success came from just focusing completely on the job that I had at the time rather than working angles for future advancement, and I try to encourage others in my camp to do the same. It also helps when I can recruit others I have worked with in the past, those who’ve proven to be true to those traits in my personal experience.

Post Pandemic Outlook:

In 2020, we did our best to function virtually day to day, but that daily interaction of popping in to help players (and each other) was definitely missed. When everyone is scattered, that connection is harder. We are ready for the vibrating energy experienced during weekly games this fall. I’m looking forward to a packed stadium this year – we all are.

Mike Vabrel coaching the Tennessee Titans through practice
Photos By: Donald Page/ Tennessee Titans
On Moving to Nashville: 

We’ve been in Boston, Columbus, Houston – you name it. We really like it here. The city offers a variety of seasons and supportive, kind people. We feel like it’s Southern, but with a feel and value standpoint of the Midwest, which is reflective of our family values and typical way of living. We live near Green Hills, and as far as venturing outside of our home near Radnor Lake and Richland, that’s the area we ‘stick to’ for things like shopping and dining.

On Country Music:

Even before moving here, country music was my listening genre of choice. Having access to live concerts and artist’s always playing so close to home is fun in the summer – so we will venture out to take in some of that. Maybe with some time on my hands down the road, I could learn to play the guitar? That seems to be a pretty popular skill to have around here.

Paying it Forward:

I have found so much joy in my involvement and interaction with The Special Olympics. Flag football, the Polar Plunge, opening ceremonies—it’s all great. Talk about inspiring! I also look forward to doing more of that. There’s also my foundation, founded with other players from Ohio State, Second and Seven. It’s built around supporting literacy, and we’ve been able to do so much to advance and support reading for the youth population and will continue to do more.

Sports and Staying in Shape:

This winter, I visited Deer Valley with my avid-skier son, Carter. I was beyond sore from trying to keep up with him on the slopes! At work, we try to stay in shape, fitting in a Peleton session here and there, but I could do better. Of course, I get a little bit of exercise on the golf course, too. The biggest factor is grabbing as much rest as I possibly can, as proper sleep is imperative to staying alert and focused (on the field and off). I preach about getting sleep to everyone under my watch.

The Titans Report:

Our owner Amy is such an incredible owner, allowing me and others to do our jobs and to support us in those efforts. One of the most exciting things happening now is the development of our state-of-the-art working and training facilities. It’s going to be incredible. From the cafeteria to the active physical areas, the well-planned structure is something we are all excited about having. We are also looking forward to all of the stadium improvements to be enjoyed by our group, but most of all, the fans. The entire experience will be above and beyond compared to what game-day has been in the past. How lucky are all of us to have that just ahead?