Redemption Story: Former Janitor Tommie Campbell Makes Titans 53-Man Roster
This has got to be one of the more inspiring stories as of late. We all know about Michael Vick’s return to grace which is a fantastic story in its own right. However, a great story is developing in Nashville and many of us are unaware of it…
Meet Tommie Campbell, a former highly touted high school prospect who failed to make the best of an opportunity at a Division I school. After literally throwing away his football career, Campbell found himself taking a janitorial job at a Pittsburgh airport in order to support his two kids. Little did he know that he would be granted one more chance to play the game that he loves so much.
Campbell is a native of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania where he attended high school at Aliquippa High School. He played track and football in high school where he was a teammate of current Jets star Darrelle Revis. After high school, he was offered a scholarship to Division I Pittsburgh and it seemed as if he was destined for the NFL. Unfortunately, academic issues caught up to him which forced him to transfer to Edinboro University for the 07-08 collegiate season. Again, Campbell was hampered by academics as he was dismissed from the University for skipping classes. With kids to support and opportunities behind him, he decided that he needed to get a 9 to 5 – so he took a full time job at the Pittsburgh International Airport to make ends meet. He would work there for six months until he received a call from California University of Pennsylvania – a small Division II school located in California, PA.
After throwing away a first and second opportunity to play football, Campbell made sure that he took full advantage of his third opportunity. He excelled at Cal U where he played at twelve games, starting four at cornerback. He recorded 29 tackles and added 2 interceptions, both of which came in the playoffs against Bloomsburg. Most importantly, he stood out for professional scouts. Campbell is 6 foot 3 and ran a 4.33 40 yard dash which caught the attention of many. He has been compared by some as a player with a similar skill set to Antonio Cromartie due to his height and blazing speed.
Earlier this year, Tommie Campbell was drafted in the seventh round by the Tennessee Titans which meant that he had an outside shot at making the team. A chance, that’s all that Campbell wanted and needed. He definitely did that as he stood out during the Titans’ preseason games. With guys like Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle and vets like Jordan Babineaux and Vincent Fuller on the team, Campbell needed to make big time plays and he was able to do that in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears.
With the Titans struggling to score against the Bears, Campbell made a game changing interception that propelled the Titans to victory. With the Bears deep in the red zone, QB Caleb Hanie throws to the sideline looking for his receiver. Campbell jumps the route and not only makes the interception but returns the ball 90 yards for a touchdown displaying his 4.33 speed in the process. Not only were the Titans impressed with Campbell’s performance against the Bears, they were pleased with his performance the following game against the Saints.
When it came down to cutting rosters to 53 men, the Titans released longtime defensive back Vincent Fuller and promising young safety Myron Rolle in order to make room for Campbell.
It’s been a long journey for Tommie Campbell as he’s experienced a lot more than most 23-year old NFL players have. Every now and then, we hear stories about players getting suspended for whatever reasons. So it’s refreshing to hear about a guy that has overcome so much to achieve his goal. This year the Titans will travel to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers on October 9th and their flight will land at Pittsburgh International Airport – the same airport where Campbell used to sweep floors at. This time however, he will be a member of a professional football team.
Best of luck Mr. Campbell, we’re rooting for you …