Titans LB Avery Williamson in Israel for “Memorable” Tour
February 19, 2018 06:23 PM | Jim Wyatt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Growing up in West Tennessee, Avery Williamson studied places like Jerusalem and some of the historical and religious sites in Israel while he was in school.

During the past week, the Titans linebacker has seen them firsthand during a tour of Israel with several other current and former NFL players.

"We actually just left the site where Jesus was hung on the cross, and where he was buried," Williamson said on Monday. "We've done so much, and I've learned so much. It's been amazing, and very memorable."

Williamson arrived in Israel last Tuesday for the week-long tour of Israel. He presented a Titans jersey to Israel president Reuven Rivlin on Sunday, and earlier on Monday he met with Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The visit was organized by a group called America's Voices in Israel. According to the Times of Israel, the group has been bringing influential opinion makers - including actors, clerics, journalists and athletes - to the Jewish state since the early 2000s with the belief that by seeing the country up close "they will understand the complexities of the situation."

"America's Voices in Israel provides high-profile Americans with the opportunity to experience Holy Land firsthand," said Irwin Katsof, the head of the organization. "The group of NFL players toured Jewish and Christian sites, and experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Holy Land."

Williamson, who grew up in Milan, Tennessee, brought his sister, Erika. They've had a busy week. Williamson spent last Tuesday traveling around Jaffa and Tel Aviv's Neve Tzedek neighborhood. Joined by former Carolina Panther Geoff Schwartz and his brother, current Kansas City Chief Mitch Schwartz, along with Austin Seferian-Jenkins from the New York Jets, Vic Beasley from the Atlanta Falcons, Chris Harris Jr. from the Denver Broncos and Josh Norman from Washington Redskins, they've seen places they'd previously only read about.

Williamson took a dip in the Dead Sea, and visited Jerusalem's Western Wall Tunnels, City of David and Christian holy sites in the Old City.

Williamson, raised in the Methodist church, and his sister were baptized in the Jordan River.

"Now that was really amazing," Williamson said.

"Growing up in church, to be able to relate to it now since I have been here, and to have images of places I've been when I read passages in the Bible," Williamson continued.

"I've always wanted to come to Israel and this opportunity came up. I always wanted to see the spiritual sites and know more about the Bible. To find out more about the history of the country and get more of an understanding of what is going on, it is pretty cool. I feel like I have a better understanding of the world now."

It is the second year in a row that the organization brought athletes to Israel. Titans tight end Delanie Walker made the trip last offseason.

On Sunday night, Williamson and the traveling party dined with President Rivlin and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. That's when Williamson presented him with the Titans jersey, with the name Rivlin on the back.

During the trip, Williamson and the group also spent time with children, and football fans.

"He was happy about getting the jersey," Williamson said of Rivlin. "He was excited to have it. It was cool to meet him, and to meet public figures overseas.

"And the kids we signed some autographs for, they were excited to meet us. When they heard 'NFL', they get super excited. And a lot of the politicians we met with, they knew about the Titans. They said we had a good year. It was pretty cool to know they are watching us overseas."

Williamson is scheduled to return back to the United States on Tuesday. He talked to Titans Online around 6:30 p.m. Jerusalem time, which is eight hours ahead of Nashville time.

He called the trip one he'll always remember.

"What has stood out the most is so much history, and so many things happened in this small country," Williamson said. "It is crazy to see all of that, and be a part of it. It is a magical country, and to know all these miracles happened in this one place, it is pretty amazing. So many centuries of history.

"I would have to say this is the No.1 (place) I've been, because of the rich history and me being a spiritual person. To see where Jesus lived and see the country, there is so much history. It is beautiful. This is probably the best place I've been to so far."

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