Quessenberry’s TD caps years of struggle

Friday, September 20, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 38

Titans’ offensive tackle David Quessenberry celebrates after catching a touchdown pass against the Colts in the first half of Sunday’s loss.

-- Photo By Wade Payne|Ap

David Quessenberry was in the spotlight for the Tennessee Titans in Sunday’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts after catching the Titans’ first TD of the game on a tackle eligible play.

It’s odd enough that a guy wearing No. 72 is celebrating a reception in the end zone. But for Quessenberry, an extra offensive tackle, that moment Sunday was a fitting tribute to what he’s been through just to get himself back onto an NFL roster.

Quessenberry, 29, has just two active NFL seasons to his credit. He spent his 2013 rookie year on injured reserve in Houston, and the next year was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014.

One day he was a professional football player. The next, he was a cancer patient.

“The whole thing was pretty low,” he recalls. “To go from football practice and head to the hospital and you’re a cancer patient. It’s a big change, a big drop.

“That was really hard. But I think the hardest part was the mental part, the uncertainty. It’s a whole new world. What’s going to happen?”

While in Houston, a couple of other Texans who would become Titans – Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and center Ben Jones – were part of a core support group that helped Quessenberry in his battle.

“Thankfully, I was surrounded by a lot of people who loved me and supported me and helped me out through those times,” he says. “Mike Vrabel and Ben Jones were there with me, and they were part of that group that helped get me through.”

Quessenberry’s struggles hit Jones especially hard.

“It went from him being in my wedding that weekend and finding out the following Monday that he had cancer,” Jones says. “It crushed me as a friend and as a teammate. You never want to see a guy go through something like that, because the guy has been working his tail off for two years.”

“His first year, he got put on IR for being hurt. He fought back from that, and then this happened.”

Part of supporting Quessenberry was making sure that he had company even if family couldn’t always be around. That carried over even after Quessenberry was cut loose in Houston after the 2018 preseason and landed on the Titans practice squad for the entire year.

“All the highs and lows, and we wanted to make sure as friends and teammates that we were there for him, from bringing him food and to his wife and to his family,” Jones says. “If nobody was there, we’d make sure somebody was there for him in his hotel. And those nights when he’d come to Thanksgiving or come to Christmas with my family.

“Last year, when he got here, he ate Thanksgiving with us. He’s my brother. He’s a part of this family.”

Quessenberry seemed like a long shot to make this year’s Titans roster, but the former walk-on at San Jose State got the call he wanted from Titans general manager Jon Robinson.

“I was with my wife, and we were hanging out on the day waiting for the call like a lot of people were,” he says. “The call came, but it wasn’t the bad kind of call. It was Jon, and he just said, ‘I want to congratulate you for making the 53.’

“It was pretty emotional for me and my wife. We had been on a long journey, a hard journey. It was a special moment for us both.”

The cancer survivor adds he believes that coming to Tennessee was a new lease on life – at least as far as his NFL career is concerned.

“It is a new chapter. I think everybody’s career kind of takes a different path,” he says. “Mine has been a pretty rocky road to say the least. But this is a new chapter, and it’s been pretty awesome.’’