Tennessee Titans cornerback Caleb Farley's father died overnight in a massive explosion that reduced the player's North Carolina home to a pile of rubble, authorities said Tuesday.
Robert Matthews Farley was found dead in the debris of the Mooresville home at around 4:30 a.m., according to Iredell County Emergency Management and Fire Services Director Kent Greene.
Crews expected no survivors when they arrived at the scene of the flattened structure at 12:08 a.m., but soon after, a family friend named Christian Rogers appeared from the wreckage. The 25-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital with a concussion, and he is now "awake and alert."
"There could not be anyone in it left alive — that was my first thought. And when I found out someone did walk out of it, I was amazed," Greene said. "This was a 6,300-square-foot home, and there's nothing left but maybe a part of the garage."
Authorities are now investigating the cause of the explosion, but Greene said it's likely to have been an accidental result of a long unnoticed gas leak.
"For as large a house as that was, that gas was there for a while," Greene said. "It finally found its way to an ignition source and caused the explosion."
Caleb Farley, who hadn't been home at the time, later came to the scene of the explosion, joining distraught family members surrounded by insulation hanging from trees and other various debris spanning at least 50 yards away from the blast.
It's believed Caleb Farley bought the 1.67-acre property for his father earlier this year.
The NFL player was born and raised in Maiden, about 25 miles east of Mooresville. He was a star quarterback at an area high school before playing for Virginia Tech.
During his run there, he opted out of playing the 2020 season because of the pandemic, saying he was unwilling to risk putting loved ones at risk while playing after losing his mother to cancer in 2018.
Then at age 24, the Titans chose him as a first-round pick. Since that 2021 draft, however, he's played sparingly due to injuries.
At a news conference Tuesday, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said the team is supporting their teammate through this hardship.
"It's just shocking," he said. "But also, we got to focus on Caleb and his family and what we can do to support them and be here for them."
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