Following the Bills sale earlier this year, the Titans could be the next team to hit the market, writes Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Bud Adams, who had owned the Houston/Tennessee franchise since 1960, passed away in October, leaving his son-in-law Tommie Smith to serve as majority owner. However, not every member of the family is inclined to retain the club for the long-term, especially after the Buffalo franchise was sold for $1.4 billion. Insiders believe the Titans could be worth as much as $2 billion, and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is being floated as a potential leader of an ownership group.
For that possibility to occur, obviously, Manning would have to retire in the near future — those close to the future Hall of Famer tell La Canfora that there’s been no movement either way regarding his retirement, with one source saying that “I don’t even think [Manning] knows.” Still, the CBS scribe allows that it “wouldn’t be a shock” to see Manning hang it up in 2015, which would pave the way for him to move into an owner/executive career, a path he has long been interested in pursuing.
Indeed, one reason Manning nearly opted to sign with the Titans in 2012 was that he wanted to become involved with the team’s front office structure once his playing days ended — at the time, Manning’s friend (and current Browns owner) Jimmy Haslam was considering purchasing the Tennessee franchise. Manning, a University of Tennessee alum, might still be intrigued by joining the Titans in some manner, and undertaking a post-playing career similar to that of Broncos general manager John Elway.
Manning wouldn’t be the only suitor interested in controlling the Titans, continues La Canfora. FedEx CEO and Washington minority owner Fred Smith is based in Memphis, and the Titans have appealed to him for some time. Sources also say that Steelers minority owner David Tepper could be a strong contender to vie for the club. Manning, obviously, would be the most high-profile suitor, and join the Panthers’ Jerry Richardson as the only current owners to have previously played in the NFL.