Bulluck means business when discussing departure from Titans

Thursday, September 23, 2010 at 12:39am

It’s a business.

That’s what we hear all the time from professional athletes. They say it when they hold out. They say it when they wrestle with whether or not to play injured.

They say it, but few of them really believe it until the business side of things actually slaps them in the face.

Rarely, if ever, has that been more apparent in regard to the Tennessee Titans than in recent days. In case anyone doubted or had forgotten that players are commodities above all else, there have been reminders.

First, coach Jeff Fisher on Sunday explained his decision to pull quarterback Vince Young by saying, “You know, I wasn’t concerned honestly about his feelings at that point. I was trying to win the football game.”

Then, three days later in a stark and candid conference call with Middle Tennesse media, former Titans’ linebacker Keith Bulluck laid bare the nature of the team-player relationship in the NFL. He discussed the limited communication between management and the locker room; he intimated that coaches play favorites; and made clear his belief that a team will say anything publicly to placate the fans with no regard for the impact on a particular player.

Some of the highlights included:

• His take on whether or not the Titans offered him a contract during the offseason (the Titans said they did):

“That's bull---- because I was in Arizona. I rehabbed with the Titans for the first two months, then I was in New York for the next two. … I worked out with the Giants. Once everyone heard that I had a great workout with the Giants and then, you know, that I'm healthy and everything, I think that's when everyone started.

“ … Those people know my ... If I was working there for 10 years, I have a house there still, those people have my number, so if they really were trying to get in touch with me, trying to sign me and do all of that stuff, I'm sure my phone would have rang, my agent's phone. I even know for a fact that we sent out footage of me training this offseason, you know what I mean? I asked my agent several times if the Titans gave him a shout, and that didn't happen.”

• On the fact that two other high profile players who left the organization after last season, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Kevin Mawae, likewise had stories that conflicted with those of the Titans:

“I haven't spoken to Kyle Vanden Bosch or Kevin Mawae since last year, and do you find it odd that we're saying the same thing? … That's just how they do things down there man.”

• On his relationship with general manager Mike Reinfeldt:

“I don't talk to him. I don't know. I don't got no relationship with Mike Reinfeldt. … I was laid up in the training room, and I actually asked Mike Reinfeldt, you know, what was up. And the answer that he gave me was somewhat of a joke. So, you know, it is what it is. It's not that serious. You know, it's all a part of business.”

• On Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher:

“Jeff's a good coach man. Jeff is cool, Jeff is real cool. … Jeff has been a player in this league and he has different ways to talk to his players.”

• On the decision to pull Young at the start of the fourth quarter in last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh:

“They're 1-1 right? So we were 0-6 last year and we were getting our ass kicked in New England and the quarterback (Kerry Collins) didn't get benched. No, I wouldn't say I am surprised.”

• On his current feelings about the Titans as an organization:

“I don't have any ill feelings towards the organization. I'm thankful that this is the organization that drafted me and gave me the opportunity to become the player that I've become back in 2000. I'm definitely grateful and thankful for that. The only thing that did bother me was that, you know, the whole after I signed with New York because, like, honestly and truthfully before that, there was no communication with anyone. And just like everything that took place after that kind of bothered me and pissed me off a little bit because I know the hard work that I put in to put myself in a position to get on the team, and of course I would have liked to have been with the team that I was with for the past decade. You know, that wasn't able to happen. They never reached out to me, so, you know, I did what I had to do, and the aftermath of that, we all know. So that kind of annoyed me a little bit. But other than that, it's just business.” 

14 Comments on this post:

By: fdanshep on 9/23/10 at 6:57

I don't question that the Titans didn't resign him but Keith was a good representative, good player, good citizen for the Titans. He is due the courtesy of a call from the Titans, especially Jeff Fisher, thanking him for 10 good years with no hickups along the way.

Not to do so is bush league!

By: popeye123 on 9/23/10 at 7:23

Keith We love you. We miss you. You are numero uno in our book. It was a pleasure and exciting to have you. Thank you for your devotion to our community . Move here when you're time playing in the NFL is done. We wish you all the best in everything you do. I'm not going to get into all the ins and outs of football personalities and the NFL.

By: cval on 9/23/10 at 7:28

Let's keep this in perspective. This is a one sided argument from an aging player that needed to move on to continue his career. Not a story here, nor is it a tell-all. It is just sour grapes.

By: wataboutbob on 9/23/10 at 7:35

cval - I was about to say the same thing. Doesn't sound like Keith did much to make things happen . . . sat back waiting for "them to reach out to me". huh?!?

Would like to hear the Titan's side of this/

By: TITAN1 on 9/23/10 at 7:40

cval, this we agree on. IMHO, Keith was a great player and may still be, but due to his injury the Titans could not do anything but to wait and see if his injury was going to recover 100%. I think what little salary he took from NY (by NFL standards) he would not have taken that here. He now gets to play in his hometown area. So since teams were not beating his agent's door down he took what he could get to go back home. Did the Titans give him a courtesy call, should they have? I don't know and really don't care. The Titans have a good record of knowing when a players best days are behind him at the end of their contract.

By: GUARDIAN on 9/23/10 at 10:23

I don't got no relationship with Mike Reinfeldt. Enough said so move on and good luck Keith. There are two sides to every story and we heard Keith's but only his.

By: topcat2010 on 9/23/10 at 10:35

This is typical Tennessee Titans business as unusal. When ever a star player is posed to sign a contract after having proven there worth the Titans will not try to sign that player for base upon his market value instead they will sit back passively allow other teams to offer the player a hugh contract. Then state publicly that the player did not respond to there attempts to negotiate. Will there ever be a Titan that will player who will play his entire career with the Titans? Every marque player that has played for the Titans has left for a higher pay day some where else. Remember: McNair, George, Mason, Vanden Bosh, Haynesworth, Rolle, the list can go on. Bud Adams is not interested in building a winning franchise with franchise players we can identify with from one year after the next, with the possibility of winning the Super Bowl. I guest he doesn't have to since the taxpayers are paying for the stadium, Baptist is paying for his practice facility, the stadium is sold out every game, he gets all of the revenue from the luxury suites, parking and concessions and the taxpayers pay for all the maintenance on the stadium. The only thing we can count on for the next 19 years is paying for the stadium and Bud Adams laughing all the way to a bank in Texas.

By: lawburgtn on 9/23/10 at 11:09

I would say to Keith; you cannot have things both ways. The comment of this being a "business" is 100% accurate. Thanks to agents, unions and collective bargaining agreements, management cannot talk directly to players. They have to talk to lawyers and union reps. If you want to b*&!h at someone, try your agent. Who was he talking to? Instead of discussing a deal with the Titans, was he shopping you out to the highest bidder?

The business aspect of sports will be its downfall. NASCAR, MLB and NHL have suffered due to rapid growth and evolving the sport into a business rather than focusing on producing a quality product for the enjoyment of the consumer. With the pending lockout/strike, the NFL will hurt themselves more than help.

To Keith and all other players, coaches and owners, take off your rose colored glasses and see things for they way they are. Then, work to fix it and return this (the NFL) back to a sport where families can watch a good game and be entertained without having to mortgage their houses for tickets.

By: TITAN1 on 9/23/10 at 11:11

topcat, I think the Titans do a pretty good job of knowing when a player is at the end of his productive career, not 100% but very near. Out of the players you mentioned that were long in years and at the end of their contract, only McNair had one good year left. I am a huge Eddie fan, but he embarrassed himself when he left here and went on to Dallas. Mason was part of a cap casualty that Floyd got us into. We gave KVB a second chance when we got him off the scrap pile in Az. He played well, but probably not the same player he was before his injuries starting creeping up again. Haynesworth was let go because he was not worth anywhere near what he wanted or got. If we got him back cheap, then he might be worth it. Rolle also was a casualty due to the salary cap and has never been the player he was while here. To say Bud Adams is not interested in winning a Super Bowl is stupid. I have been a season ticket holder since day one and I love the fact that more times than not the Titans are competitive. There are those who think Fisher should be fired because we have not won a Super Bowl. Those same people would whine if we did win but not repeat. Fisher would have a job before the day was out if he got fired. I'm glad we don't keep a player when he is past his prime just because he was drafted by the team or has been here a long time.

By: JDG on 9/23/10 at 11:34

Wow, I hate to be uncreative, but lawburgtn wrapped it up in a nutshell. Agents and the union are at least partially to blame. How do we know, from Bullock's statements, that his agent even gave the Titans a chance? Perhaps he thought that if Keith did return to the Titans he would accept less money because he wanted to be here, and an agent couldn't have that could he. Perhaps the Titans front office knew what the Giants were offering, and knew they weren't going to match it so why waste time And why is it that Keith expected personal attention, when he is part of a collective? Somebody should have called you after the fact? Why? You were a New York Giant.

And do any of you naysayers really have a deep understanding of labor law and the intricacies of how even a simple statement can be construed, by lawyers, to convey meaning other that what was meant?

By: slim53 on 9/23/10 at 12:31

Keith, don't worry about it man. We love the Titans but we think a h--l of a lot more of you than we do their johnny come lately management! No Doubt! Thanks for everything. We, the fans, appreciate you more than you know! You will always be a Titan.

By: TakePrideInNash on 9/23/10 at 12:49

I don't think the Titans did anything wrong. He chose to take New York's offer. He could have had his agent to call the Titans and see if they would top it. Like someone said earlier, he did not get a big contract but got to go back to his home town or close to it.

By: not_guilty on 9/23/10 at 4:44

"Will there ever be a Titan that will player who will play his entire career with the Titans? Every marque player that has played for the Titans has left for a higher pay day some where else."

How about Bruce Matthews? He's in the Hall of Fame. Brad Hopkins went to two Pro Bowls.

Frank Wycheck and Craig Hentrich played elsewhere, but ended their careers as Titans after several productive years.

By: frodo on 11/8/10 at 4:37

Keith wants his agent to handle the business, but he also wants the team taking business to him. So he finds some personal offense in that. You can't have it both ways. buddy.