NASHVILLE — Logan Ryan has a daughter. Kevin Byard has one on the way.
That’s left both members of the Titans’ secondary even more susceptible to the inspiring efforts of Toni Harris and what she’s doing for women in football.
So much so that they were compelled to act.
Ryan, a cornerback, and Byard, a safety, paid a portion of the funeral costs for Harris’ mother, who passed away last week.
Harris, 22, is the first female to receive a full college scholarship for football as a non-specialist. In February, she signed a letter of intent to play safety for Missouri's Central Methodist University, which participates in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Harris has stated that her goal is to become the first female NFL player.
Harris, along with 16-year-old Sam Gordon, another young pioneer for women in football who in 2017 won the NFL’s game-changer award, connected with Ryan and Byard last month during NFL draft week in Nashville. The Checkdown, an NFL-affiliated social media platform with over 277,000 followers on Twitter, contacted the Titans about bringing Harris and Gordon to the team facility.
“So me and Logan volunteered to show them around our meeting rooms, locker room and practice fields,” Byard said. “We had a little film session and a small workout with them as well."
Not long after their meetup, Ryan saw on Harris' social media that her mother had passed away. In a GoFundMe campaign created by Harris to help pay for the funeral costs, she explained that her mother died from severe injuries in a car accident.
Ryan reached out to Byard about it.
"We thought it would be cool to pay the remaining balance she needed for the funeral," Byard said. “For a young lady in her position that’s about to embark on a journey that no woman has before, I can only imagine what’s she going through losing her mother. We just wanted to give her some comfort to let her know that we’re rooting for her and God has a plan for her. Tough times don’t last, tough women do.”
Byard recently shared a gender-reveal video to announce he and his wife, Clarke, were having a daughter. Ryan and his wife, Ashley, have two young children, a son and daughter.
“People always ask me, ‘Are you going to let your son play football?’” Ryan said to Harris and Gordon in a video posted by The Checkdown on Twitter. “Well, first of all, I’ll let my daughter play football if she wants. I think you guys are a true testament of that.”
On Thursday, the NFL posted on Twitter a photo of the foursome at the Titans facility along with a message that shared Byard and Ryan's intent to pay for a portion of Harris' mother's funeral.
“Couldn’t be more grateful for these two,” Harris tweeted above the photo. “Always gonna be apart of my family!”
For someone so inspiring, Byard said lending a hand was something he and Ryan felt strongly about.
“(Harris and Gordon) are most definitely inspiring a generation of young ladies who believe that no matter what, if you set your mind on a goal and you truly believe in it no matter how many people say you can’t do it or you shouldn’t do it, you can achieve great things,” Byard said. “Logan has a daughter and I have one on the way in September. That’s the kind of mentality that we want for our daughters.”
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