Ex-NFL kicker killed in crash had Charlotte ties

Rob Bironas, who was a security guard at a Charlotte Best Buy store before becoming one of the NFL’s most accurate kickers, was killed in a single-vehicle wreck late Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn., according to Metro Nashville police.

Bironas, 36, died when he lost control of his 2009 GMC Yukon Denali and slammed into a row of trees about a mile from his home. Police said Bironas’ SUV was speeding when it went off the road on a curve.

Bironas was alone in the vehicle and died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was rushed after the wreck, police said. There was no sign of alcohol or drug use, according to police reports.

After graduating from Auburn University in 2002, Bironas spent years on the fringes of the NFL. He was on the offseason roster of the Green Bay Packers and the preseason rosters of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Steelers but didn’t make final cuts.

Instead, he played indoor football, including a stint in 2004 with the Charlotte Cobras of the Arena Football League. He made 17 of 40 field goals and 80 of 89 extra points that year – considered excellent records in a league with narrow goal posts.

During his year in Charlotte, he also struck up a friendship with young kickers in the Charlotte area. A story written about him at the time said he tutored kickers at Providence High School during the 2004 season.

To make ends meet, Bironas worked in security at a Best Buy store in southeast Charlotte. He told ESPN he once caught a shopper trying to steal a large computer.

One of Bironas’ best chances to land a job in the NFL was thwarted by another Charlottean. He was one of two kickers left in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ camp in 2004 but was cut in favor of Jeff Reed, an East Mecklenburg High graduate who went on to have a successful career with the Steelers.

A year later, Bironas finally got his chance.

Bironas was able to leave his Best Buy job when he was signed by the Tennessee Titans in 2005.

He converted on 85.7 percent of his field goal attempts, fourth-best in NFL history. He also ranked third in the NFL for accuracy on field goal tries of 40 yards or more, for players since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, making 75.2 percent of his attempts.

He kicked a 60-yard field goal in a 2006 game against the Indianapolis Colts, setting a franchise record. And he set an NFL mark with eight field goals – including the game winner – in an Oct. 21, 2007, win against the Houston Texans.

His NFL career ended in March, when he was released by the Titans.

Bironas was married three months ago to Rachel Bradshaw, daughter of NFL Hall-of-Fame and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

The Associated Press contributed.

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