John Fredericks Commentary: The Ghost of Sid Gilman

As a die-hard Titans fan, I have one thing to say: I love this team.

Not because we are overly talented or particularly fun to watch – we are neither. When we win, it’s some downright ugly football that usually includes seven 60-yard punts by our new phenom punter, at least one missed field goal by fat Randy and a botched fourth and one on a dropped handoff off a silly trick play with Derrick Henry standing around in the backfield.

When we lose it’s much worse, like the drubbing we took last week in Philadelphia or the Buffalo Monday-night massacre.

I’m a true believer because I love our culture, the toughness it embodies, the personality of our hard-nosed coach and the resiliency of a team that hangs together in adversity.

And sitting atop all this: one Amy Adams Strunk – a tough as nails Joan of Arc type owner who drives the franchise’s identity. She is the soul of this team.

She got my attention in 2015 by wrestling away controlling interest of the Titans from other entrenched family members, including her sister and older brother. Amy was tough, unforgiving and relentless in pushing out her siblings and their respective spouses to take the reins. The key is “take.” She took it. This was a stealth cut you’re your nuts off corporate coup that would have made Carl Icahn blush.

The lady is nails, and she takes no prisoners. She was intent on instilling a winning Titans culture of toughness, teamwork, physicality and comradery in the locker room. No whining was to be tolerated and no bad apples would spoil the barrel.

She built a culture that has endured. Her teams have over-performed for seven years. Short on talent, depth and flash while long on perseverance, hard work and toughness, they have won a lot of games in that span, three times advancing beyond round one in the playoffs.

On Monday morning – after an embarrassing blow-out in Philadelphia – made worse by the mocking antics of former Titan A.J. Brown – Amy “Joan of Arc” Adams Strunk marched into her general manager Jon Robinson’s office at Titan headquarters.

She wasn’t bringing coffee and donuts.

She fired him. She outlined his severance. He was escorted out.

No doubt her decision was made on Sunday night flying back to Nashville. It takes a while for lawyers and H.R. executives to draw up dismissal paperwork.

Amy had enough. She is about winning and culture. Robinson did not get the team to the next talent level where they can compete with an Eagles or a Bills on the road. Why wait? She said in her prepared statement she owes her fans who pay for the tickets and buy the merch a better product than what we witnessed last Sunday afternoon.

This is the epitome of leadership. You see the problem – you act on it immediately and you try to solve it.

In the words of George W. Cecil:

On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of decision, sat down to wait, and waiting – died.

Amy didn’t take this franchise over to wait around.

Now the Nashville media, including some Titans beat-writers with good intentions, are calling for Amy to address the media, saying it, “puts her players in an awkward position.”

She owes no such explanation to anyone. No loyalty expected – none given.

Robinson was paid to build a roster to win a championship. The talent dearth is his responsibility. He was held accountable by the person signing the back of his paycheck. That’s how a culture is built. That’s how a legacy is defined.

I grew up a very long-suffering Houston Oilers fan. We were the early joke of the AFL-NFL merger. In 1969, the Oakland Raiders crushed us in a playoff game 56-7. Pete Beathard was our quarterback. It was embarrassing.

Then one day Bud Adams, Amy’s dad and the Oilers founder—hired hall of famer Sid Gillman to be the head coach. Gillman was enticed out of retirement to bring respect to desperate franchise. He was famous for coaching the AFL San Diego Chargers to prominence. Gillman was credited with devising and new pass-first offense led by John Hadl and a “hit first ask questions later” bone crushing defense.

It was 1974. The Oilers were horrific in 1973, going 1-13.

Gillman went to training camp and instituted two-a-days in the Texas heat and drove his players to near exhaustion. His practices were causing grown men to vomit on the field. The complaints started coming from veterans who didn’t think this was “fair.” They started whining to a sympathetic media. Sports Illustrated criticized Gillman for what he was doing. Some players quit over it.

When finally questioned at a press conference about the long, relentless and exhaustive practices, Gillman had a two-sentence response: “We went 1-13 last year. I’ll issue every single player on this team a license to hate me – if we can win.”

The Oilers went 7-7 in 1974. Gillman instilled respect.

48-years later, Amy Adams Strunk brought her inner Sid Gillman to Nashville.

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John Fredericks is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia Star. He is also the host of The John Fredericks Show weekdays on NewsTalk WJFN 100.5 FM and 820 AM.
Photo “Amy Adams Strunk” by Tennessee Titans




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One Thought to “John Fredericks Commentary: The Ghost of Sid Gilman”

  1. Joe Blow

    This “tough as nails” woman’s organization is attempting to strap a multi-billion dollar stadium to the back of taxpayers. Therefore, I have no love nor respect for her.