Tennessee Titans president Steve Underwood announced his retirement from the club on Friday, and the team promoted Burke Nihill to the role of president and CEO.
“Stepping back from something you love doing is never easy,” said Underwood. “But this is a good time for my family and me to make a change, and there are lots of good reasons this is a great moment for transition for the club.
“We have an accomplished controlling owner who understands transitions and changes are basic to our business. Our football operations this past season reached a level of success not seen in over 15 years. Like all businesses, we have business challenges—underscored now by COVID-19. We also have a next generation of leaders—including our new President—who are ready and capable of meeting any difficulty. This includes a pandemic our nation hasn’t seen in over a century.”
The Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk is excited about Nihill taking the reins as team president.
“When Steve informed me that he was ready to step away from a full-time role, it was immediately clear to me that Burke was the best choice for the job,” she said. “Since starting with the club as the General Counsel, Burke has continued to take on additional responsibilities to the point that he has become an invaluable resource and an absolute superstar for our organization. I have great confidence in him and his leadership, and I know that the future is bright for the team.”
Underwood said the promotion of Nihill, who joined the organization in 2016, is a good move for the organization.
“Amy’s selection of Burke Nihill as our next generation of business leadership is the result of his steady and worthy ability to forge relationships with our other executives and to seek consensus, while reserving the right to make the final decision,” Underwood said. “He exhibits all the traits that help create an atmosphere of achievement. I know from personal experience that Burke isn’t interested in personal accolades—only collective success. This is a hallmark of servant leadership. I might add that he has a great group of senior colleagues for counsel and guidance.”
Underwood also praised the support staff that Nihill will have around him.
“Jenneen Kaufman has been with us for over 20 years and is among our most knowledgeable executives and community leaders. She will be indispensable to our progress moving forward,” Underwood said. “Gil Beverly has brought a quiet revolution to our new and traditional media, gameday and sponsorship efforts. He is playing an important role in transforming our community and media relations and will be a crucial asset in our future success.
“I am not sure enough can be said about our General Manager (Jon Robinson) and Head Coach (Mike Vrabel). I have seen my share of leaders on the football side and these two men have transformed our club’s football fortunes in a matter of a very short time.
“I intend to remain as a confidant and aide to Amy for as long as she believes I can offer useful advice. To be honest, I don’t think she needs much help, but her asking me to stay on in a personal advisory role is a great honor for me and will allow me to spend more time with Frances and our girls, while remaining a resource to Amy and to her family. I am gratified she would ask me to have a continuing role.”
Nihill is excited about the opportunity to serve as the Titans team president.
“I am exceedingly grateful for and humbled by this opportunity,” said Nihill. “I am inspired by Amy’s vision for our franchise and look forward to collaborating with my talented colleagues to serve our fans, partners, and communities. From the NFL Draft on Broadway to a magical run to the AFC Championship, last year was a special season for Titans fans, but as an organization we believe the best is yet to come.
“I also want to offer my congratulations to Steve Underwood on his retirement. Steve has been an extraordinarily generous mentor and friend to me, and I’m thankful that we will continue to benefit from Steve’s experience and wisdom in his role as Senior Counselor.”
Nihill is entering his fifth season with the Titans in 2020. In February, he was promoted to Senior Vice President/Business Operations & Chief Legal Officer. He previously held the title of Vice President and General Counsel for the team. In his previous role, Nihill was responsible for the organization’s legal, human resources and government relations functions. With his promotion earlier this year, he also began overseeing stadium and facility operations.
In addition to his core responsibilities, Nihill has also taken the lead on other strategic projects for the team. He was instrumental in the effort to secure and execute the 2019 Draft in Nashville and is currently overseeing the renovation and expansion of Saint Thomas Sports Park.