VOL. 38 | NO. 6 | Friday, February 7, 2014
Walker calls out ‘cancers’ in Titans’ lockerroom
Mike Munchak is no longer the Titans’ coach “because we had players ... that really let him down. They didn’t show up to play for him. They really didn’t care if Munchak had a job or not,” Walker says. -- Ap Photo/Mark Zaleski
Please excuse this brief interruption of the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl celebrations and the post mortems being written about the Denver Broncos.
Just for a moment, let’s go back and examine some comments made by Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker on local radio last week that sort of fell between the cracks of the all the Super Bowl hype.
What Walker said in an interview on 104.5 The Zone was that there were six or seven players on the 2013 Titans, who were basically “cancers” in the locker room and really didn’t care that their performance helped cost Coach Mike Munchak his job.
To quote Walker directly from the interview:
“I met with (Munchak), we actually talked after a walk-through and he was like, ‘I don’t want you to say any names, but we know. Munchak knew. But there wasn’t nothing he could do at that time.
“I felt like that is why Munchak is not back with the Tennessee Titans, because we had players like that that really let him down. They didn’t show up to play for him. They really didn’t care if Munchak had a job or not.”
What Walker said on radio wasn’t exactly his first raw exposure of the Titans’ problems.
“It’s disgusting. I’m disappointed. I’m embarrassed. A team that’s 0-8 comes in here and beats us? Beats us on our home field, that’s 0-8, the Jaguars? Come on,” Walker told me after the embarrassing home loss to Jacksonville that started the Titans’ downward spiral in November.
While Walker didn’t name names in outing the so-callled “cancers,” he said the proof is on game film, and new coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff should be able to spot it right away.
Truth is, Walker is on to something here that runs much deeper than just a handful of guys who played selfishly or may have been dogging it.
Walker came to Tennessee from the San Francisco 49ers, where Jim Harbaugh has created a winning environment. Safety Bernard Pollard was imported from Baltimore, where the Ravens were fresh off a Super Bowl championship.
Those two know what it takes to win in the NFL, and both loudly pointed out the Titans’ shortcomings at various times during the season.
Now it’s up to Whisenhunt and GM Ruston Webster to fix the problem.
The average NFL career lasts less than four seasons. The Titans last tasted the playoffs five years ago. So using that as the scale, a whole generation of Titans’ draft classes has never sniffed the postseason.
They don’t know what it takes to win consistently in the NFL. And with that, a mindset that losing is acceptable was allowed to fester.
Webster has talked at length about changing the culture inside the Titans locker room and throughout the organization. But that can be difficult to do when so many players have so little experience with what it takes to win.
The Titans need to follow the lead of guys like Walker and Pollard, but there aren’t enough of them in the locker room.
When the Titans went on a $100 million, free-agent spending spree in the off-season, there was a seriously questionable approach in that quest to fill holes on the roster.
Besides Walker and Pollard, most of the players they brought in didn’t come from winning situations either. There were plenty of ex-Buffalo Bills, plus players from the Jets, Chiefs (pre-Andy Reid), Rams and Lions brought on board.
How much winning have those franchises done in the past decade? Most of them have fared just as poorly as or worse than the Titans.
The point is, the Titans’ locker room was already short on players who have played in a winning environment. And when you add a bag full of former Bills, Jets and Rams to the mix, it doesn’t exactly spell playoffs.
Sure, people may point out that the Seahawks had no prior Super Bowl experience, but Pete Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider rebuilt the team and instilled a winning attitude from the start.
Whether it comes from Whisenhunt building that winning approach or bringing in more refuse-to-lose guys like Walker, the first thing that has to change for the Titans’ organization is their belief and total commitment to winning.
Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com and is a blogger for National Football Post.