VOL. 8 | NO. 52 | Saturday, December 19, 2015
Don’t Look for Peyton Manning to Rescue This Struggling Franchise
By David Climer | Special to The Tennessee Ledger
With Tennessee Vols legend Peyton Manning likely in his final season as an NFL player, there has been speculation that he will be pursued by the Titans for a front-office position with the organization.
It would be a smart move by Titans ownership. Having a popular figure like Manning affiliated with the team in any role would be a plus. It would be a huge asset in terms of public relations since he would connect with the community, helping fill a void created by absentee ownership.
Former University of Tennessee and current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning could be in his last season as a player, leaving many to speculate about his future as a coach, executive or owner.
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
But those who believe bringing Manning aboard in a significant front-office role would immediately cure what ails the Titans are sorely mistaken.
As an 18-year NFL veteran, Manning knows a lot about the league from a player’s perspective but has zero experience in personnel or management.
In time, he could learn. He’s smart, driven and dedicated. But he would need a period for apprenticeship before assuming a major role such as team president or general manager.
And that’s time the Titans don’t have. They need help – now.
Steve Underwood has served the last nine-plus months as the team’s interim president/CEO. Underwood has said on numerous occasions that his biggest job is to identify and hire his own successor. It is unclear how long Underwood wants to remain with the franchise.
Meanwhile, Ruston Webster appears to be on shaky ground as Titans general manager. In four years, his draft picks and free-agent acquisitions have failed to upgrade the roster. In terms of overall talent and depth, the Titans’ roster falls in the bottom quarter of the NFL.
In other words, suggesting Webster serve as a mentor for someone like Manning is misguided. Given Webster’s performance as general manager, it would be a mistake to have someone learn from him.
As for Manning, he undoubtedly will have a number of options when his playing career is complete. He is certain to field offers to serve as a TV analyst. Coaching on some level is another possibility. But an NFL front-office job seems like his best fit.
In four seasons as Denver’s quarterback, Manning has watched John Elway excel as executive vice president for football operations and general manager. Manning very well may envision a similar career path – from Hall of Fame quarterback to an executive position with an NFL team.
But Elway did not go straight from the playing field to an NFL front office. After retiring after the 1998 season, he went into private business.
In 2002, he became co-owner of the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League. That’s where he learned how to deal with players and handle other personnel matters.
In sum, it would be wise for the Titans to bring Manning aboard in some capacity. But expecting his arrival to provide a quick fix is foolish.