Underwood: No sale, Titans will exercise 10-year stadium extension

Friday, February 19, 2016, Vol. 40, No. 8
By David Climer

In case you were wondering, no, the Tennessee Titans are not for sale.

That is the word – again – from Steve Underwood, Titans president/CEO and the conduit between Titans ownership and the team’s fans.

“The team is not for sale and has never been for sale,” Underwood points out.

Underwood is consistent. That has been his stance since taking over as the Titans’ top executive almost a year ago.

Despite media reports to the contrary, Underwood has maintained that the team’s owners have never hinted at the possibility of a sale.

He insists the ownership group remains committed to Nashville.

When the franchise relocated from Houston in 1997, franchise founder Bud Adams signed a 30-year lease with the city. That lease has a 10-year extension option that the team can exercise.

“When the time comes, I feel comfortable we’ll exercise that option,” Underwood adds. “There isn’t any reason for us not to do that.

“Nashville has been very supportive of us as an organization. We have no interest in leaving.”

Some of the media reports about a possible sale have been fueled by statements from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell about concerns over the Titans ownership structure.

At his State of the League address prior to Super Bowl 50, Goodell indicated that the Titans ownership still is not in compliance with NFL policy.

The fact that the Titans have had two controlling owners – first Susie Adams Smith and now Amy Adams Strunk – in the 28 months since the death of franchise founder Bud Adams may be at the heart of the NFL’s concerns.

Goodell says the other 31 NFL owners “want to know who their partner is. They want to know who’s responsible for how the team is operated locally and they want to know that their partner is sitting at the table when they are making difficult decisions.

“… We have to continue to work with the Tennessee ownership group to see how that’s going to conform with our policies. We’ll be meeting with our finance committee in the next few weeks. That’s a subject we’ll be discussing.”

In general, the NFL prefers a situation where one person owns the majority of a team and is the unquestioned decision-maker.

Bud Adams established a five-person ownership group upon his death. Adams’ two daughters each own one-third of the team while the other third is divided equally among the heirs of Adams’ deceased son Kenneth Adams III – Kenneth Adams IV, Barclay Cunningham Adams, and their mother, Susan Lewis.

“We do have a diverse ownership group,” Underwood explains.

Underwood says Strunk has been very active since she succeeded her sister as controlling owner 11 months ago.

It was Strunk’s call to fire Ken Whisenhunt as coach midway through last season and oust General Manager Ruston Webster at the end of the season.

She was heavily involved in the interview process that resulted in the hiring of Mike Mularkey as coach and Jon Robinson as general manager.

“I think you can see the progress that has been made,” Underwood says. “… Are we where we want to be? No. Amy wants to win. Our fans want to win.

“By making the changes, she put in motion actions that are going to address concerns about our competitiveness on the field.”

Reach David Climer on Twitter @DavidClimer or at dclimer1018@yahoo.com.