It has been well over a decade since Bud Adams decided to transform the Houston Oilers into the Tennessee Titans.
Since that time the franchise’s owner — and Houston native — clearly has not lost sight of the team’s past.
Wednesday, Adams announced a restructuring of the front office in which Mike Reinfeldt, an Oilers safety during the late 1970s and early 1980s, was elevated from general manager to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer. Also Ruston Webster was promoted to executive vice president/general manager and Lake Dawson was elevated to vice president of player personnel.
The moves meant that former Oilers players now hold the organization’s top posts in terms of business affairs (Reinfeldt) and competitive issues (coach Mike Munchak). Munchak was a Hall of Fame player for Houston from 1982-93.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Reinfeldt said. “I think it shows that former players are important to us. We take them for what they can do. Coach Munchak’s done a great job. He’s earned the right to be a head coach and I think that’s a great message to our players.
“I think they hear that loud and clear.”
Reinfeldt still shares the franchise record for interceptions in a single season (12, 1979). After five seasons as the Titans general manager, he replaces Steve Underwood, who retired last summer and whose tenure with the franchise reached well back into the Oilers days.
His experience in the business side of the NFL consists of three years as chief financial officer of the Raiders (1985-87), as chief financial officer and later vice president-administration with the Green Bay Packers as well as senior vice president with the Seattle Seahawks.
His new position is second in the organization only to Adams. Officially, Reinfeldt has the final say on all matters, football and non-football and is in charge of all day-to-day operations locally.
“He will report directly to me,” Adams said. “He will work … to make sure everyone is moving in the right direction.
“… We have done what I think is a nice job of stabilizing our football operation over the last year. This will solidify our operation even further. I like where things are headed and this stability will allow our team to continue growing together, and I know these moves will make our organization a better one.”
Adams spoke by phone from his Houston office and did not take questions during the press conference to formally announce the changes.
The instability he referenced began with the departure of former coach Jeff Fisher last January and was exacerbated by the lockout, which canceled most of the offseason.
Munchak replaced Fisher, led the team to a 9-7 record — its first winning season in three years — and kept the Titans in contention for a playoff berth all the way until the final week of the regular season.
“When Steve Underwood left we didn’t replace his spot, I think, because there was a lockout going,” Reinfeldt said. “… I think once the season got over and things settled down it gave us a chance to look at things again. This is kind of a natural order of where things should be.
“… I think there were a number of discussions over the course of the last month. … At the end of the day it kind of seemed like the right thing to do and an easy match.”
Webster was Tennessee vice president of player personnel the last two seasons after having worked in the front offices of the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Dawson, who recently interviewed with the St. Louis Rams regarding their opening for a general manager, was the Titans director of pro scouting for four seasons before he was elevated to vice president/football operations.
“I think all of us want a certain kind of player here,” Webster said. “We want good, talented players that are also hard workers and tough guys and people the type of men that the people in Nashville can be proud of.”
Not to mention people with the potential to offer something beyond their playing days.