On Monday Tennessee Titans interim president Steve Undwerood stood in from of a packed auditorium inside St. Thomas Sports Park to address the media about the changes that had been announced earlier in the day,
Among the changes were the termination of general manager Ruston Webster, whose contrace was not remewed and Underwood will be remaining and remove the interim tag from his title as team president. Underwood also announced that the team had begun a search for a new general manager and head coach and that interim head coach Mike Mularkey would be interviewed as part of that seasrch.
Underwood acknowledged that there were also intermal candidates for the general manager position, though he would not name those candidates. Director of Scouting Blake Bennefield is likely one of those candidates, though there has been no public announcement to that from either the team or Beddingfield.
Loyalty is a great trait and one that Underwood possesses. He was the right hand man for Titans founder and owner Bud Adams for over three decades. When Underwood retired three years ago he returned to his home in Texas to sit on his porch, but following the death of Adams, it was Underwood who answered the call to return to the Titans to help the family correct the course of things for the franchise.
Since the death of Adams the Titans have been in a state of disarray having undergone repeated changes at the top. Tommie Smith, son-in-law of Adams and the husband of Susie Adams-Smith was tabbed by the family to become president of the team. That lasted through last season until March when another upheaval inside the ownership group left Adams-Strunk as the controlling owner for the group.
Based on the track record of this ownership group since the death of Adams, which included the disaterous tenure of former head coach Ken Whisenhunt, it is easy to see how fans are upset with the direction of the franchise Fans want a winner or at least the sense that this franchise is heading in the right direction,
So why should fans be excited about what is going on with the team?
On Monday I sat in the Underwood press conference and listened to every word spoken and all the questions asked. I also asked Underwood about the fact that while he lauded the involvement of Adams-Strunk since she assumed control, we in the media and fans have not heard from Adams-Strunk herself about the direction of the team and her plan to rectify the current state of the franchise.
"You know, I see different things about all of that. I think what people want is an owner who is engaged in the management day to day of the club. And maybe what’s happened here is that we haven’t done a good job making that clear, that Amy (Adams Strunk) is on the job every day, all day, is at our games, is at many of our functions," said Underwood. "You know, just because she doesn’t take a high profile doesn’t mean that she’s not involved. So maybe what we need to do is a better job getting across that Amy is involved on a day-to-day basis with everything that our company and our club is doing."
There are different schools of thought as to how an owner should act.
There's those like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones who is flamboyant and always in front of the cameras and talking about his team. There are other owners like Jim Irsay of the Colts who are similar to Jones while other owners stay out of site more often than not.
There is no perfect way for an owner to conduct themselves, and as long as the team begins to win Titans fans won't care of they every hear from Adams-Strunk herself.
However, with the team in its current state the fans who buy the merchandise and season tickets want to feel that the controlling owner understands their anger and desire for a winning team. Fans want to know that ownership understands that these fans spend their hard earned money to purchase season tickets. Most fans aren't wealthy to the level of the Adams Family and want to see the owners step down from their ivory tower and show the fans that they truly care and are going to fix the situation.
Adams-Strunk's reluctance to appear before the cameras and recorders have futher fuled the fans discord and distrust in what ownership is doing. After all, who can blame them considering the choices and failures of this group since Mr. Adams death.
That said, these hires will be the first with Adams-Strunk at the helm and so far her track record has been impressive and might surprise some.
1) In March it was Adams-Strunk who removed Smith as team president and returned Underwood to that position when it became clear that Smith was outside his depths in running the team
2) Adams-Strunk led the Titans in completing a deal with Nissan for naming rights on the stadium.
3) Adams-Strunk, while silent in the media was seen and photographed at every game, both pre and regular season. She was always on the field and seen talking with coaches and team officials before kickoffs.
4) When it became apparent that Whisenhunt was endangering the team's franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota, it was Adams-Strunk who moved to fire him just seven games into his second season as head coach,
5) On Monday she removed Webster as the general manager after the team recorded a 5-27 mark in the last two season. Fans had been calling for Wenster's head on social media for weeks, Adams-Strunk gave it to them.
6) The team now has a permanent president with years of experience in the NFL.
Those are certainly moves of someone who is engaged and aware of the goings on inside her team even though she does not live in the same city with the team.
Now she and her team that includeds minority owner Kenneth Adams IV, Underwood and Vice President of Football Adminsitration Vin Marino, who will all participate in the selection of the new general manager and head coach will proceed in indentifying and hiring those individuals.
Underwood aknowledged that perhaps the team should have done a better job of showing the depths of her involvement in the day-to-day operations of the team since March.
"She is directly involved in the operations of our business not some days, every day," he said. "I don't think there is anything missing from her dedication to making our franchise what it needs to be."
Based on the moves she has overseen so far it is visably recognizable that she is indeed engaged, aware and in charge.
At the same time, fans still want to see and hear from her the vision and direction the team is headed.
Fans became accustomed to Mr. Adams being accessable in the early days of the team's life in Nashville. Adams was regualry quoted by the media, and was an old-school man who answered his own phone and media members- myself included- had his home number and he was happy to talk about his prized possession, the Tennessee Titans.
Adams-Strunk is not her father, and no one expects her to pass out her digits to the media for anytime access. Fans should be comforted to see the moves that she has made so far but at the same time those same fans would like to feel that they are important enough for the controlling owner of the team they love to say hi to them and share her plans for the future of the team in her own voice.
That might not happen, and no one can blame Adams-Strunk for being uncomfortable and not wanting to speak in front of cameras, so if the hires she makes turn this team around thatr will jsut have to be enough.
Somehow I bet a winning team will ease any disappointment fans might feel, but is not then Admas-Strunk might have to give in if her team is going to have anyone in the stands in the future.