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Titans linebacker Jonathan Willard pulls family from burning car


Quick reflexes and situational awareness are key attributes for any player looking to make his way into the National Football League. Tennessee Titans linebacker Jonathan Willard just didn’t expect those skills to be needed so desperately while driving down the freeway to report for training camp.

According to David Hood of – a site that covers Clemson University athletics – Willard helped save a woman, her three children and their dog from a car fire while driving to report for camp on Tuesday.

Willard was driving along Interstate 40 in Tennessee when he noticed a car driving along the road with black smoke spewing from the vehicle. He flagged the car down and got the woman driving the car to pull it over to the side of the road.

The car quickly became overrun by flames.

“When she pulled over, the car was really on fire at that point,” Willard said. “The driver, she acted like she was in some kind of daze or something. She told me that she didn’t stop because she didn’t think it was her car that was on fire. Another guy stopped, and we managed to get the kids and the dog out and get them to safety, and then I finally got the woman out.”

Willard went undrafted and signed with the Titans after a productive career at Clemson. As a senior, Willard recorded 95 tackles with 10.5 for loss and three sacks.

With the number of arrests seen this offseason involving NFL players it’s great to see a player getting in the news for the all the right reasons.

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50 Responses to “Titans linebacker Jonathan Willard pulls family from burning car”
  1. Stiller43 says: Jul 24, 2013 3:36 AM

    Wow awesome news!!!

  2. jonbeck316 says: Jul 24, 2013 3:41 AM

    Aaron Hernandez would’ve pushed a family into a burning car- and this is coming from a pats fan

  3. cylondetector says: Jul 24, 2013 4:02 AM

    I love a positive story about an NFL player as much as the next man but Willard certainly did not ‘pull family from a burning car’.

    Typically misleading sensationalist headline.

  4. somekat says: Jul 24, 2013 4:04 AM

    You know who did something very similar the other day? George Zimmerman….just sayin

  5. favrelous says: Jul 24, 2013 4:05 AM

    There are good people in the world. Well done.

  6. stewart09 says: Jul 24, 2013 4:12 AM

    what courageous kid Showed serious heart there putting his career and life on the line by saving a family in a burning car, i wish him all the best in making the titans roster.

  7. jimbo75025 says: Jul 24, 2013 4:17 AM

    Good for him. With all the player arrests in the news, it is sometimes hard to remember that most are just normal people who go through life avoiding the police blotter.

  8. raylewis96 says: Jul 24, 2013 4:23 AM

    Atta boy

  9. pondbridge says: Jul 24, 2013 5:06 AM

    Will be rooting for Willard from now on…. most individuals couldn’t be bothered. Not my problem.

  10. discosucs2005 says: Jul 24, 2013 5:23 AM

    I’m just so glad the dog is ok.

  11. joetoronto says: Jul 24, 2013 5:35 AM

    Hats off to Jonathan Willard, it’s refreshing to hear something positive nowadays with all the arrests.

  12. therealraider says: Jul 24, 2013 5:38 AM

    The dog really did eat my homework once.

  13. andyvictory says: Jul 24, 2013 5:41 AM

    An article of this nature was about 378 Aaron Hernandez posts overdue. Great story, and way to use your football taught decisiveness to become a hero Willard.

  14. jrock3x8 says: Jul 24, 2013 6:00 AM

    love this! we need to hear more stories about our celebrities doing the right thing at the time they are needed!

  15. onlyonelbc says: Jul 24, 2013 6:02 AM

    Nice to hear a positive story about the NFL players,

    Best of luck to Jonathon Willard making the roster, you deserve it young man!

  16. jfd349 says: Jul 24, 2013 6:21 AM

    This is the kind of story that needs to grab headlines, not most of the other ones that actually do. Great job young man.

  17. Indybear says: Jul 24, 2013 6:34 AM

    Wow! A positive news story for once. Way to go Jonathan Willard!

  18. djstat says: Jul 24, 2013 6:35 AM

    Great job!

  19. cobraiv says: Jul 24, 2013 6:46 AM

    Awsome. Something positive about an NFL player for once!!

  20. The Bible Demystified says: Jul 24, 2013 6:47 AM

    People thought the Zimmerman “rescue” was a little staged, huh? So did I.

  21. titansbro says: Jul 24, 2013 6:47 AM

    Nice job. Ill be pulling for you to make the team.

  22. SafePicks says: Jul 24, 2013 7:06 AM

    Agreed. Too many negative news these days. This one is good stuff. Way to go Willard!

  23. GenXJay says: Jul 24, 2013 7:07 AM

    Good on him.

  24. chezdigital says: Jul 24, 2013 7:10 AM

    Great thinking guy! A true selfless hero.

  25. ColtsWinColtsWin!! says: Jul 24, 2013 7:16 AM

    Good for him, it’s nice to see a Titan do something meaningful for once.

  26. jvkaimak says: Jul 24, 2013 7:19 AM

    Great job Jonathan. Your a true hero, and with all the reports of these other knuckleheads in the NFL, this is refreshing.

  27. trifectajjc says: Jul 24, 2013 7:19 AM

    With all the numbskulls we’ve seen come and go in the NFL recently, this is really really refreshing.

  28. northstarnic says: Jul 24, 2013 7:34 AM

    Nice job, young fella!

  29. gipsydave9 says: Jul 24, 2013 7:45 AM

    Atta way, Tig. One of my favorite things about this site is that they do post stories like this. You’d never hear about this on ESPN. Great job, rook!

  30. sw19womble says: Jul 24, 2013 7:47 AM

    Good thing Willard and the other driver were able to take control of the situation. Sounds like the woman was in denial or freaked out or something.

    Agree with you other guys. Great to hear a positive story about an NFL player for once! 🙂

  31. exboomer says: Jul 24, 2013 7:51 AM

    Excellent news, kudos to Willard for his heroics.

  32. greenmeattruck says: Jul 24, 2013 8:08 AM

    Players who have pulled families from burning cars this offseason- 1.
    Plers who have been arrested for outlandishly stupid S^!T- 40+ and counting.

    How’s that discipline policy working for ya Goodell?

  33. pologroundsvet says: Jul 24, 2013 8:12 AM

    Thank you Jonathan. Not only for your act of courage, but also for reminding us what most NFL players have for character at a time when the reminder is sorely needed.

  34. True Talker says: Jul 24, 2013 8:18 AM

    Good to hear. Greg Olsen accomplished this feat as well. Just the other day the warm hearted Tight End saved a lady from her car. But Olsen plays for the Panthers so its not news.

  35. 70huskers says: Jul 24, 2013 8:27 AM

    He was promptly cut later that day for being late to training camp!!

  36. peachyc39 says: Jul 24, 2013 8:30 AM

    This is a great story and I’m so glad that among all the bad things that have went on this off season that there are some players that still have good sense. Willard is a great asset to the NFL and I for one as a long time football fan am so glad to see someone coming into the league bringing a positive vibe. Good luck to you Jonathan and I hope that you will be successful in this league for a long time!

  37. ausernamethatisavailable says: Jul 24, 2013 8:39 AM

    Nice job. He is a regular George Zimmerman.

  38. eldoradogeorge says: Jul 24, 2013 8:44 AM

    Hats off to this guy! I wish we saw more stories like this involving NFL players.

  39. bucrightoff says: Jul 24, 2013 8:54 AM

    Good to see there are still incredible guys in this league, the police blotter makes it hard to believe.

  40. gcbean says: Jul 24, 2013 9:28 AM

    Good job #49! It’s so good to hear about the good deeds players are making instead of all the garbage other dirtballs are involved with.

  41. engage47 says: Jul 24, 2013 9:39 AM

    Most people have good character, unlike what you would expect from all the twisted news stories, it’s nice to see the positive stories – good job # 49

  42. rvncrft72 says: Jul 24, 2013 10:44 AM

    I agree with some of the other respondents, “Finally, someone showing love and compassion for their fellow human.” Way to go Jonathan! Go Titans!!!!!!!

  43. granadafan says: Jul 24, 2013 10:54 AM

    Zimmerman didn’t “rescue” a family from a burning car. While Hernandez pushed the people back in the burning car, Zimmerman shot them.

  44. tindeaux says: Jul 24, 2013 12:33 PM

    well done Jonathan Willard! I am rooting for you and your success in the nfl. good luck!

  45. purplecrowe says: Jul 24, 2013 12:39 PM

    He got the kids and DOG out….then the woman : )

    Seriously good deed though, way to go!

  46. gcsuk says: Jul 24, 2013 12:46 PM

    Good thing he’s not on the Giants. Tom Coughlin would have fined him for not being 5 minutes early to the meeting.

  47. nyjetsfan08 says: Jul 24, 2013 1:01 PM

    Both Zimmerman and Willard did courageous things. Very good news story. And just like with the big news networks, ESPN will likely ignore or bury it in a news crawl and not give the man credit.

  48. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 24, 2013 1:38 PM

    100% completion rate. Now that’s getting the full job done and what I expect from an NFL hero.

  49. jdphx says: Jul 24, 2013 3:07 PM

    Kudos young man!!!!

  50. iheartfootballz says: Jul 24, 2013 3:59 PM

    Who knows, maybe he makes the roster and pulls the team out of a burning dumpster.

    (Actually a Titans fan, just had to say it)
    Awesome story given this offseason. One thing MUNCH has done is looked for high character people… now only if we could find high production too

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