March 19, 2012
Tennessee doesn't do it for Manning
By JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency
When something sounds too good to be true, that's usually the case.
Peyton Manning is more loved in the state of Tennessee than Tim Tebow is in Florida -- and that's saying something, y'all.
It's the result of Manning's legendary four-year college career at the University of Tennessee in the mid-1990s.
So when Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams announced a week ago Sunday that the Titans were suddenly hot in pursuit of Manning, the whole state went all galdarn giddy.
He left his heart in Tennessee! He has a home in Chattanooga! His wife is from Memphis! His wife is a Tennessee grad, too!
Adams probably sensed the euphoria that Manning's signing would create. Translation: he'd sell a helluva lot more tickets. Thus, he left zero wiggle room -- the Titans were all in for Peyton.
"He is the man I want. Period," Adams told The Tennessean. "And the people that work for me understand that ... I want Mr. Manning with the Titans and I will be disappointed if it doesn't happen."
But that dog didn't hunt.
Manning disappointed Adams and broke a few million Tennessee hearts Monday when it was reported he'd chosen the Denver Broncos, and was negotiating final contract details with them.
Adams was gracious in a statement posted to the club's website Monday afternoon.
"I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton, and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and, obviously, I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.
"Now that we move forward, I want our fans to know that our expectations haven't changed -- winning a championship is still the goal. I like our quarterback situation moving forward and we will continue to build the team through free agency and the draft with that goal in mind."
Worse for the Titans, their infatuation with Manning might have cost them a shot at Mario Williams -- the free-agent defensive end they badly wanted. The Bills convinced Williams to visit Buffalo before Tennessee, and signed him last week before letting him skip down to Nashville.
For those keeping score at home, the Titans got rejected by the No. 1 free agents on both sides of the ball.
Where does this leave the club at quarterback? Back to Plan A -- well Plan A-a, and Plan A-b. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck again will try to hold off Jake Locker, last year's hotshot first-round draft pick.
Adams said those two QBs were "thrown into a very difficult situation," courtesy of, well, Adams and his very public desire to acquire Manning.
And it's not like the team's QB controversy is over. At the Scouting Combine last month, head coach Mike Munchak said he expected quite the battle between Hasselbeck and Locker in spring and summer camps.
"Neither one of those guys wants the job handed to him," he said. "They want to compete for it ... Hopefully it will be obvious who should be the best guy to lead the team, because you don't want the quarterback question to be going on every week, 'Who's the guy? Who's the guy?'"
One guy it won't be: Peyton Manning.