After months of uncertainty and speculation, the Tennessee Titans finally have their front office in order. And as they prepare to forge ahead with a new identity, they must first repair an old one.
The Houston Oilers were a family franchise when they moved to Nashville, and had carried on that tradition when they became the Tennessee Titans in 1999.
Late owner Bud Adams was a huge proponent of that philosophy. He often promoted from within, which led to Jeff Fisher and Mike Munchak getting their head coaching opportunities. And while that philosophy didn’t earn Mr. Adams a championship ring, his teams were contenders far more years than not.
But that all changed when he passed away in October 2013.
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At the end of that season, the Titans decided to part ways with Munchak, ending his 30 year tenure with the franchise as a Hall of Fame offensive lineman (Oilers), assistant coach, and head coach.
Ken Whisenhunt was brought in to replace Munchak and…well…you know.
The 3-23 record masked an even bigger problem…the complete erosion of the atmosphere that Mr. Adams worked so hard to establish.
Immediately upon coach Whisenhunt’s arrival in 2014, former Titans were vocal about no longer feeling “welcomed” at the team’s facility. Something that had to be a culture shock for the current players.
In the days, weeks, and months that followed his firing, more and more stories would surface about the hostile environment that was fostered by coach Whiz’s iron-fist dictatorship.
Now it is easier to understand why the front office pointed to Mike Mularkey‘s relationship with the team as one of the determining factors in removing his interim tag.
Fisher was a players coach. Munchak was a players coach. Mularkey is a players coach.
In one of his first moves as the new head coach, Mularkey decided to look to the past. The Titans held an Alumni Meet and Greet function last Wednesday night, welcoming the former players back into the organization.
They were introduced to the new coaching staff, and were encouraged to step in…any way they see fit.
As reported by Titans Online Senior Writer Jim Wyatt, Mularkey told the former players:
“It is important you guys know you are involved. There will be a lot of change around here, and you guys are a part of it. And our relationship with you guys is very important.”
He went on to add…
“If you want to come to practice, come to practice. If you want to come out here and have lunch with the players, come on out. We want you to be involved.”
And according to Wyatt, the gesture was well received. Especially by Derrick Mason, a key player for the Titans during the glory years.
“I thought it was a good thing. Coach Mularkey and (GM) Jon Robinson, they understand in order for us to move forward and to have success, the players have to understand how success looks…”
“And they have to know what guys before them did to put this organization in the position it was in once upon a time. So it was great to see all the guys here, and it was even better to know the head coach, the GM, and (part owner) Kenneth, everyone was on board with this.”
They all cover the Titans, and they all, at one point or another, eluded to the erosion of the team’s core values over the last two years.
Wednesday night was a positive sign that Mularkey just might be the man for the job. He and new general manager Jon Robinson understand the huge task ahead of them, and understand that it will take a total team effort to get the Titans back into playoff contention.
And that includes the alumni.
The former players were wanting to help all along, kudos to the Titans for allowing them to, again.