Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said she is hopeful that the league’s questions about the club’s ownership have been answered satisfactorily.
The NFL once fined the Titans for not being in proper ownership compliance, though Adams Strunk has been the team’s controlling owner since 2015 when she replaced her brother-in-law Tommy Smith at the helm. She owns one third of the team, along with her sister Susie Adams Smith (Tommy’s wife) and the wife and children of her late brother, Kenneth Adams III. Her nephew, Kenneth Adams IV, is also on site in Nashville assisting with the club and is part of the team’s board of directors
“I’m hoping it is resolved. We are going the right direction. Hopefully, that’s been put to rest,” said Adams Strunk, who had to fight back talk of the team being for sale and of the league questioning who was in control when major decisions involving the franchise had to be made.
The league’s issue with the team was that because the ownership was split into thirds that no one of owner K.S. “Bud” Adams’ heirs had a controlling interest in the franchise. However, other NFL teams have had ownership groups where no single person held a 51 percent majority, and Adams Strunk has been the point person of the ownership for more than two years now.
Changes have already been evident for the franchise, which got a remodeled locker room last season and a revamped weight room this year. There are bleachers installed for fans to more comfortably watch training camp practices, and more changes are in the offing – namely a uniform alteration for 2018. And while it won’t be radical, it will be noticeable, because as in the remodel of the locker room, Adams Strunk decided to go above and beyond the initial request from Mike Mularkey.
“Mike was the first one and he was talking to me about changing the carpet, and anyone who has remodeled knows you don’t just change the carpet. And I was like we’re not gonna do just that. That locker room needs a total makeover. It was a group effort and it just kind of kept evolving from there,” She said..
As Adams Strunk spoke to TitanInsider.com from the team’s practice field at St. Thomas Sports Park, it was hard not to notice the changes that have been prevalent over the past year or so with the Titans franchise. The Titans have been undergoing a needed makeover n the field, in the front office and with the facilities. Adams Strunk said that so much of what had to be done was part of the reason she kept a low profile at the beginning of her regime.
“It was daunting at the beginning. There was a lot to do, a lot to fix. We had to get the team going in the right direction again, and I laid low for awhile, but you could say I’m out now,” Adams Strunk said of her increased public profile.
Her decisions to keep Mike Mularkey, promoting him from interim coach to the permanent position before last year, and the hiring of Jon Robinson as general manager, have proven successful early on.
“As I talked to Mike, and he told me the direction, he hadn’t labeled it ‘exotic smashmouth’ yet, but he said we’ve got to get a running game to help Marcus (Mariota),” she said. “Jon’s gonna get the people for it. It all started making sense to me. I’ve been around this a long time. Some of our most successful years have been with Eddie George, Earl Campbell. You get that running back in place; it just makes sense. I think Mike has proven he’s the right choice.”
Adams Strunk said she knew Robinson was the right man for the GM job from the moment he interviewed with her, Kenneth and team president Steve Underwood.
“He came in in his interview and blew us away. Everybody was talking about the changes we need to make and the roster and it went on and on and on,” Adams Strunk said. “We spent four hours together, and by the end of it, I turned to Kenneth, because it was Steve, Kenneth and I, and I said, ‘That’s the guy. That’s who I want picking our players for a long time.’ And he’s from Tennessee, and that’s a benefit, an added benefit.”
While running the Titans is a new experience for her – one she seems to be enjoying more and more – she has been around football for a long time and learned from her father, who ran the team from its inception in 1960 to his death in 2013.
“If you knew my dad, he did a lot of work at the breakfast table, and I was listening. My dad wasn’t the type to ask my opinion, but I was listening and there were times when I went, ‘Wonder why we did it this way?’ But I never did see myself in this position,” she said. “I had my opinions, but I kept them to myself like a smart daughter does. I don’t want to say you learn by osmosis, that’s silly, but being around this your entire life, it wasn’t a new thing to me. I’ve seen coaching changes. I’m sure there were times my dad wished he did or didn’t do what he did. But you learn from that.”
It helped her to be confident that she was making the right calls on Mularkey and Robinson to run the franchise’s on-field fortunes.
“It didn’t make sense to pull the trigger (on firing Mularkey). He seemed like a good choice, and I knew Jon was going to get those pieces,” she said.