September 22, 2014: Oxford, Ohio—On Sept. 20, Phi Kappa Tau Hall of Famer Rob Bironas, Eastern Kentucky ’12, entered Chapter Eternal. He was 36.
Bironas, originally from Louisville, Ky., was killed in a single-vehicle accident near his home in Nashville.
“When a brother, regardless of if he is young or old, or has been a member for many years or just a few, enters Chapter Eternal, the brotherhood ‘mourns the breaking of these earthly ties and the loss of companionship. Another link has been severed from the fraternal chain that binds us together,’” said National Chaplain David Lapinski, Penn State ’74. “We carry on by the thought of ‘our fondest hope that the flower of his life shall bloom again in the Eternal Spring.’”
Bironas was honorarily initiated into Phi Kappa Tau during the 60th National Convention in Nashville. He developed an interest in joining due to his friendship with his manager, Josh Bleidt, Eastern Kentucky ’96.
“At first I wasn’t familiar with it as far as being an honorary inductee, but once [Josh] started to explain the beliefs, what Phi Tau stands for and the brotherhood, I put a lot of thought into it,” Bironas said during an interview with Phi Kappa Tau in 2012.
It was the Fraternity’s commitment to service and philanthropy that ultimately lead Bironas to make the commitment to the Fraternity.
“[Phi Tau] does a lot of great things and has a strong name with recognition for the work they do in the community,” Bironas said. “During the last couple of years, Josh told me a lot about the SeriousFun Children’s Network camps with Paul Newman working with terminally ill kids and how getting out into the community is something the organization takes pride in. I feel that aligns well with what I believe in and what I do with my own fund working with causes for children in Tennessee and Kentucky.”
In the time since initiation, Bironas was always willing to support the Fraternity and Foundation through any means he could, including staying in touch with his new brothers and autographing items that were part of Foundation silent auctions.
A 2007 Pro Bowl kicker, Bironas played nine seasons for the Tennessee Titans. During his remarkable career, Bironas made 85.7 percent of his field goal attempts, which ranks him fourth most-accurate kicker in NFL history. He is also second leading scorer in Titans history with 1,032 points and holds Titans records for longest field goal, 60 yards, and game-winning field goals, 11.
Although he made a name for himself on the field with his foot, he developed a reputation off it with his service to the community. In 2008 he started the Rob Bironas Fund, a component of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, to support children’s organizations. The Fund has contributed thousands of dollars to pay for musical instruments for children who otherwise could not afford them, as well as grant wishes for Make-A-Wish children, according to the CFMT website.
The Titans released a statement following his death.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news from last night about Rob Bironas,” the statement said. “Rob made a significant impact as a player in his nine years with the team and more importantly touched many lives in the Nashville community off the field. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Rachel, and his family during this very difficult time.”