Titans owner has some Pal Hal in him

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:52 PM ET

Listen to Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams long enough and just one question springs to mind: Who knew Harold Ballard had a long-lost brother?

Ballard loved to give the world the one-finger salute as owner of the Maple Leafs. And, if there is one thing Adams (who once flipped off Buffalo) loves more than getting his team in the headlines, it is getting himself there.

Adams, at 87, much like Ballard, is well past his “sell-by” date but that has never stopped him from making certain the world knows he’s still Boss Hog.

He is becoming a central figure in the controversy between head coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young. And, much like Harold, he isn’t helping.

Ballard loved attention. It seemed to keep him young. While others fretted over Ballard’s treatment of stars such as Darryl Sittler, Frank Mahovlich or Dave Keon, the man himself revelled in the controversy.

Adams is like that. Show him a pot and he’ll stir it if for no other reason than to prove that he still can. When Young made a petulant spectacle of himself last Sunday, firing his shoulder pads into the stands and then disrespecting his head coach in a locker room quarrel, Adams reaction should’ve been simple.

But instead of backing Fisher and telling Young he has to grow up, Adams told the two they’re both back next season and to get along. Then, he stood back to watch the sparks.

Young has been Adams’ golden boy since the day he ordered Fisher to draft him.

It worked. For a while. But its difficult to see how Fisher can’t feel he’s being undermined again by Adams. It’s difficult to see how he and Young can co-exist. How can Fisher continue to work for an owner who basically has indicated he doesn’t care if his players act unprofessionally and disrespect their coaches?

Adams won’t take sides because, like Ballard, it comes down to money. Neither of them got rich by giving it away. Adams doesn’t want to dump Young but it’s becoming evident Fisher can’t work with him. But Adams doesn’t want to fire Fisher, either, because he’ll have to pay his coach.

So the circus will continue its run. There is one difference between Ballard and Adams. While many of the Leafs despised Ballard, Adams seems to be liked by players. Guess that isn’t surprising considering Adams, despite his age, is a kindred adolescent. Professionalism appears to be about as high on the owner’s list as it is on his quarterback’s. When Adams flipped the finger at the Bills and their fans in 2009, linebacker Stephen Tulloch called him “a cool owner” who liked to “have fun.”

Maybe. But Fisher is trying to run a professional football team, not a day care centre recess. If Fisher thinks his team is going to the dogs, at least it won’t be the first to do so. One day when John Brophy was still coaching the Leafs, Ballard’s dog, Puck, got loose from its handler and went charging on to the Maple Leaf Gardens practice ice. “Fastest I’ve seen anyone move out there all morning,” sniped a long-deceased veteran writer, “maybe they should dress him.”

Unlike what Ballard did with coach Roger Neilson, so far Adams hasn’t asked Fisher to show up for work wearing a paper grocery sack over his head. But, it’s still early.

Minnesota, Houston, Dallas, Carolina and the 49ers could all be looking for new head coaches. Although he’s never won a Super Bowl, Fisher is the NFL’s longest tenured head coach for a reason: He is adept at gameday strategy and his teams are always well-prepared.

Fisher would have no problem finding work. Despite his loyalty — some would suggest misplaced loyalty — to Adams, the best move Fisher could make would be to walk away. One-fingered salute, optional.

HELLO AGAIN

Quarterback Eli Manning and Michael Clayton are eager to make up for lost time. It has been seven seasons since the New York Giants’ newest receiver caught a pass from Manning. “He’s excited,” said Manning, who practised and roomed with Clayton when the two worked out prior to the NFL combine in 2004.

Clayton was signed by the Giants to replace the injured Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.

“We were down in Florida for about three months,” Manning said. “And he was a guy I was throwing to a bunch then, so it’s good to reconnect.”

TALKIN’ COCKY

Bengals’ Terrell Owens called New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis an “average cornerback” earlier this week.

When the Jets finished throttling Cincinnati 26-10 on Thursday, Owens was held to 17 yards on three catches.

“He called me average, and I showed him how an average corner plays,” Revis told ESPNNewYork.com. “You can’t hide away from the stats, you can’t change the stats, you can’t add a zero after the 17.”

Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan was positively crowing about the club’s secondary holding Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer to 133 yards passing Thursday.

“Detroit will probably offer three first-round picks for one of our cornerbacks,” Ryan wise-cracked.

QUICK HITS:

Packers coach Mike McCarthy suggested that Dimitri Nance has bypassed John Kuhn for the No. 2 spot on the running back depth chart. “I look forward to going forward with him and Brandon (Jackson). I think that is a good 1-2 punch,” McCarthy said ... Giants receiver Derek Hagan isn’t blaming Asante Samuel for the helmet-to-helmet hit that cost the Eagles cornerback a $40,000 US fine. “It’s one of those bang-bang plays where he’s running full speed and I’m running full speed and when you’re in the heat of the moment, you’re not really thinking: ‘Where am I going to hit the guy?’” Hagan said ... Chargers’ Antonio Gates practised but remains unlikely to play against the Colts ... Former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte is coach of the Burroughs High School Bombers (14-0) who played Friday for the Class 3 state championship in St. Louis ... When finished playing, Colts running back Mike Hart would like to go back and coach at the University of Michigan.

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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