Titans president and CEO Steve Underwood spoke on issues the NFL and the organization are having since owner Bud Adams died in Oct. 2013. Although Underwood refuted the notion the Titans are for sale, he did confirm the league and the team are engaged in dialogue regarding ownership status, according to The Tennesseean’s John Glennon.
“The league has never once indicated to us that they are attempting to force the sale. I’ve never heard those words used. I think they’re continuing to work with us on trying to resolve the ownership issues, and in the meantime, none of those things are affecting the operation of the club,” Underwood told the paper.
Roger Goodell has expressed issues with the Titans’ ownership structure, which consists of controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, Barclay Cunningham Adams, Kenneth Adams and Susie Adams Smith. But Underwood denied to expand on what kind of concerns the league has with the post-Bud Adams Titans brass.
“Those issues are between our owners and the league,” Underwood said. “They don’t have anything to do with the business we conduct here, trying to put a winning product on the football field and run our football team from day to day. They’re not affecting that. … Amy has made it abundantly clear that nothing about our ownership is going to change. I’m not sure how many different ways I can say that. They’re not selling. The team is not for sale.”
Underwood told Glennon the league’s issues with the group have been ongoing since Oilers/Titans founder Bud Adams’ death, and Glennon asserts Adams Strunk’s absence at the NFL relocation meetings in her native Houston furthered this speculation. Underwood, who represented the Titans in Houston, said Adams Strunk was devoting her time to finding a new GM and coach.
Here is some more Titans-related news.
- The end to these discussions between the NFL and the Titans will involve the league telling the franchise what needs to happen to comply and could produce a demand for the ownership to sell all or part of the equity in the team, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes.
- Underwood confirmed to Glennon the issue of ownership came up often when the Titans were interviewing head-coaching candidates. “Many of the candidates asked these same questions and I offered them the same reassurance I’m offering now. The team isn’t for sale. It’s never been for sale.”
- All 10 of the candidates who interviewed for the team’s GM and coach jobs said the primary attraction for the position was Marcus Mariota, Underwood said. “We asked every one of those men what appealed to them about the idea of working here. The first answer we got from all 10 of them was Mariota. That’s a true story, not an exaggeration. The second thing was having the first pick in the draft. The third top-10 quarterback the Titans tabbed in the past nine years after Vince Young and Jake Locker, the 22-year-old Mariota won three of the 12 starts he made before suffering a season-ending injury, throwing for 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
- The Titans’ $40.62MM of cap space ranks seventh in the NFL this offseason, and Underwood identified receiving and offensive line help as the two key issues the team must address. “We’ve got plenty of cap room available and our owner is going to be willing to spend money. [Adams Strunk’s] made that clear to me and to our head coach. I do think we’ll spend money to improve our roster. … We do need to find better protection for Marcus and more weapons to capitalize on his strengths as a quarterback. Those are all areas (new GM Jon Robinson) and Mike (Mularkey) have identified as additions we need to make.” Prior to drafting Mariota, Tennessee took wideouts (Kendall Wright) or linemen (Chance Warmack, Taylor Lewan) in the first round, while signing Andy Levitre to a lucrative deal.