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Mike Munchak on the Death of Bud Adams

Posted Oct 21, 2013


(opening statement)

I just wanted to say I was saddened today to hear about the passing of our owner, Mr. Bud Adams. I’ve been with this organization over 30 years, and I’ve been blessed to be a football player here during that time, a position coach, and now the head coach. I will forever be grateful for all Mr. Adams has done for me and my family, so my thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Adams family during this difficult time. To reflect back, when I first met Mr. Adams I was drafted in 1982. I made my first visit to Texas, never been to Houston, and it was day two of the draft. Back then, there were six rounds. In the morning, I was drafted in the first round, so (when) the second round was going on I went to his building where his office was in the ABC building. His office was down in the basement and the war room was up on the third floor, so I went right down to see Mr. Adams. I wasn’t sure what to expect. His office was enormous—I never saw a desk that big in my life. He was the first Texan I met, and he was very happy, very loud, called me over, and I sat down. Just to see his excitement for the draft, being part of it, he immediately went back briefly after I talked about Penn State, where I was from (in) Pennsylvania. He went right to 1960 and when he put this whole thing together. Just seeing his excitement, his passion for what he did, the stories about how back then he was the owner, he was the general manager. He did everything but coach the guys, and it was very interesting to hear his stories about Billy Cannon and how he signed guys, cut deals, how he kept the league together, and in the meantime won some championships. I probably spent a good hour with him that day, that first meeting. It was all about the organization’s history and what was going on down there. I felt like I was with a guy who really loved what he did, loved the excitement of the NFL. (I felt) like this guy was a pioneer for bringing the league together into what it is today. It was exciting for me because I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know a whole lot about the Oilers. I felt in that short hour I was going to be part of something special. I didn’t know it would be 30-something years that day, but we got along well—I just didn’t know we got along that well. So, he kept me around for a long time. That’s something I’ll always remember—that first meeting. If you’ve been around Mr. Adams, and I know a lot of you have been, he loves to tell stories about the passions he has in life. Obviously, this team was one of them. I’m glad I had that time with him. Really skipping ahead when I became the head coach how we talked about that when I was officially hired…the times I used to spend with him people would always say, ‘Well, have you talked to Mr. Adams? He’s in Houston.’ I would say, ‘You know when I talk to him? I talk to him on Saturdays before games. He flies in on Saturday afternoons, and usually there’s no one here in the building, and he comes in with four or five of his friends—gentlemen from other businesses he has because obviously he has a lot more going on than the football team. I’d meet him here, I’d wait around so I could spend some time with him, and I’d walk through the building with him, with his friends, and we’d talk, we’d walk around and look at all the pictures (and talk) about all the stories. He would talk about the guys back in the 60s and 70s, and I would talk about the guys from the Earl Campbell years on, the guys I had more history with and the Titans. That was something I’d look forward to, but we’d never get real far because he told a long story. He made sure he got every detail in, and I just really enjoyed those Saturdays (during my) first year as a head coach that we spent with different guys every Saturday afternoon. Like I said, finally by the end of the year we made it to the end of the hallway. But, this meant a lot to him here and becoming part of the Titans. I was glad I was along for the ride for 30-something years, and it’s just a really sad day.

(on what the organization will look like without Mr. Adams)

Well, I don’t know. We’re not going to reflect on what’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day. I think it’s more about how we got here. We’ll move on, obviously, but I think (today) was more about a day of memories of what he’s created, how much he’s accomplished, and what a chance he did take back in 1960, jumping to the NFL and believing in this becoming what it is today.

(on how much input he shared with Mr. Adams)

I think he shared that this year. I think everyone has known he wants to win. He knows the only thing that was missing for him was the Lombardi Trophy. That’s the space…after walking through the hallway when we talked about doing the timeline that we put up in the last year or so and how the last chapter is going to be that Super Bowl trophy from 1960 to hopefully that trophy at the end. That’s something he believed in. When I had the conversation with him last year after a disappointing season, he didn’t get caught up in the details. He just wanted to know how do we fix it, what can I do? I think it wasn’t about worrying about anything else but what do we do, what can I do to help you guys win. Ruston (Webster) and I then proceeded to explain to him what we thought we needed to do, and he was all in. I mean, it was, ‘Hey, whatever it takes, whatever we have to spend—we want to do it wise—but we do not want to cut corners. I want a winner, and I want it now.’ That’s kind of what we started in early January, that’s the mindset we had, that’s the mindset Mr. Adams had. It was important to win it but also to bring it to the city of Nashville for accepting us in here 17 years ago. He thought it’d be great to get that final accomplishment here in Nashville. Like I said, you saw how active we were with the changes we made, position-wise, player-wise, to fill these seats with very good football players. Like I said, the challenge goes forward.

(on how difficult it is to envision the future without Mr. Adams)

Titans Founder and Owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. welcomed Jake Locker to the organization in 2011. Click here for a slideshow of photos of Mr. Adams.

It’s real hard because people think, ‘Well, he wasn’t here, maybe he wasn’t an active owner being right here the whole time.’ But, he was. When I walked the halls he was always here because I had those stories with him, I know his history, I knew what was important to him. When I put that timeline together, we knew exactly what was important to him. He’s here all the time. You can see him, you can feel him, but he (his body) wasn’t here. I think he’ll always be here. I think we’ll always know what the challenge is going to be and what we want to accomplish here. The one thing he doesn’t have that we want to get is (a Super Bowl title). That’ll be the challenge going forward. So, it’s going to be very difficult because I just enjoyed those conversations even just talking to him on the phone, on speaker phone with myself and Ruston (Webster). I remember I was talking to Jake Locker today about it. The last draft he was at was Jake’s. I have a picture in my office of how excited he was holding the jersey with Jake here and meeting him and realizing we were starting a new era with a new quarterback. It was funny for me to watch Jake sit down at his office because Mr. Adams was upstairs, and Jake was there the day after just like I was. Jake was the eighth pick in the draft just like I was, and he sat down with Mr. Adams. The desk wasn’t as big upstairs as it was in Houston, but I knew it was time for me to tiptoe out of the office because he was about to tell the same story I heard back in 1982 about 1960. I said, ‘Jake, I think you’re going to enjoy the story,’ and I walked out. Jake was in there for at least an hour and then some hearing the story. I joked with Jake again today because it was almost like we went through the same thing 30 years apart.

(on the day-to-day changes without Mr. Adams)

I don’t know about all those things.  Obviously, that is not my area of concern right now.  With those things I’m sure there is a plan like there always is in a company like this and those things will come out when it is necessary.

(on honoring Mr. Adams with a decal or patch on the jersey)

I know that we will come up with something.  We haven’t really talked about it yet.  This is all so sudden.  We will do what we think is in the best taste for him.

(on his last conversation with Mr. Adams)

It was not last week, it was probably 10 days ago.  The good thing is I think we were 3-1, so it was a good moment.  Again, even when we didn’t play well, even last year when we went through that season, he always said, ‘Mike, what is going on? What do you think?  What are we going to do?’  It was never like … people always had these impressions that it was an unpleasant conversation.  It really never was.  Maybe for me it wasn’t just because we didn’t talk a lot and I’ve known him for 30 years and obviously then some.  I was in a position as a player so a lot of those years we didn’t talk in that way other than if I wanted a contract and he got involved ever so often in those things.  We always had good talks.  We always seemed from the first conversation I had with him until the ones as a head coach, even when things weren’t good, he always seemed more positive than I anticipated him being and almost encouraging me to say what’s our thinking and what’s the plan.  He always wanted to know the plan and how are we going to fix this and tell me what we need to do.  I think that was what always encouraged me was it wasn’t just the opposite.  It could have been a lot worse and it was always something that was more encouraging and more we stand behind you and what do we need to do to make this right.  That is really what you saw us do this past offseason.

(on if Mr. Adams was more fiery in his younger years and if he witnessed any ultimatums)

Titans coach Mike Munchak and Mr. Adams talk after a 26-23 win in 2012 against former AFC Central rival Pittsburgh.

You heard about them through the press and you guys in some of those years where we started off 1-4 and things like that.  For me as a player, he used to come speak back in the day, back in the 80’s, he would always come to training camp and speak to the team and always talked to us before the season started.  He would come into the locker room after the game and give a little talk about the upcoming season.  Sometimes he would come in and he would get into it, he would have a lot of excitement and a lot of passion and the players could see that.  Even the last time he was in the locker room to meet with the players that are here, I think it was that Pittsburgh game last year, he loved beating Pittsburgh, believe me.  So that meant a lot to him so he made his way down to the locker room after we had won that Thursday Night Football game and they saw the excitement in a man that just wanted to win football games and how he had a passion for what we were doing.  The message he passed along to them was even though he wasn’t here all the time, he is here in spirit.  It was important to him.  He said I’m watching every Sunday, just so you guys know.  I may not always be here, but I’m watching every Sunday.  They appreciated it and the nice visit.  We didn’t get a chance to have any of those visits this year.  I know the players did enjoy when he did come.

(on if he had any idea that Mr. Adams health was failing him)


(on if the funeral arrangements have been determined)

No, they haven’t.  All of that I’m sure will come out in the next day or so.

(on the improvement he and Mr. Adams expected this season)

When it started that way on improvement, the next question was, ‘How are you going to do that?’  So we started talking about what we thought we were lacking.  This is a couple days after the season ended, or probably the day after the season ended.  We sat and talked for a long time on the phone about how we can go forward.  We started with the pieces of the puzzle we thought we had, which obviously was the offensive side with the quarterback; talking about Jake Locker and him getting hurt and the influence that had in the season last year; and how that we felt it started with him.  He’s a guy that obviously Mr. Adams knew very well, felt that he was the guy.  You have your quarterback, and obviously he sat and talked with him that evening or that afternoon after the draft.  So I think he really felt comfortable with him, and (he said), ‘How are we going to help Jake?  How are we going to help Jake?’  That’s what it became.  We talked about what we thought we needed to do on the offensive side of the ball.  Again, we went through that thoroughly with him, and that kind of excited him.  He’d get excited about it.  Maybe I sold it good.  Maybe he liked the way I told the story and was optimistic.  ‘Here’s how we’re going to do this, and here’s why it’s going to work.’  He’d have a few questions, and I seemed to have the answers for him.  So I think he really got excited about that.  I thought that was my job, to excite him about what the plan was because he didn’t know the details of it; he didn’t know a lot of these guys’ names.  He didn’t know Andy Levitre and all these guys.  It was our job to find the right guys.  I think he just liked to hear how the puzzle was going to come together, and how do we do that.  ‘Yeah, you need a good offensive line.  Who are you looking at?’  We’d tell him that, and he’d get excited about that.  When we drafted Chance Warmack, he was all excited about the Alabama thing, and he saw him on TV.  That kind of excited him.  So there’s things like that, as we went through what our plan was, that got him excited.  And we talked about the defense and what our thinking was there and how we fix that, about having leadership.  He’d tend to tell me stories about leaders back in the day when he was more involved with the team.  So it was that kind of conversation.  He was very much involved in it.  It wasn’t necessarily detailed, all the little details.  It was more about an interesting story that sounded like a good story, like there was a plan here that could work.  That excited him.  I talked about bringing back some of the coaches and some of the players; that always excited him, a name he heard in the past.  ‘Hey, Bruce Matthews is going to come.’  That kind of stuff.  He liked having people around that he trusted and knew and that had been good workers for him.  Bruce as an offensive line coach, and me I guess also.  We told him about bringing Gregg Williams back.  We talked about that back when that happened.  He was all excited.  We talked about why and how that worked, and it made a lot of sense to him.  He’d go, ‘He’s one of my guys.  We went to the Super Bowl with that guy.’  That excites him.  If I could explain it to him, why it made sense, I think he really enjoyed listening to the explanation and visualizing, ‘That makes sense to me.  I like it.  Let’s keep doing that.  Can we do this?’  Luckily he never asked how much it was all going to cost, I guess.  But those were the conversations that I enjoyed because I think he enjoyed them.  He felt like he was back there rolling up his sleeves. I could see him on the other side rolling up his sleeves going, ‘Hey, how are we going to fix this thing?’  So it was just having that kind of conversation without boring him to death with details.

(on if the unexpectedness makes it tougher to process)

Yeah, it does.  It’s not something that you ever think about.  He hadn’t been sick. At least when someone older is at least ill, you think maybe something like this is coming.  So no, it was something I felt was going to be a long time, and he was going to demand a lot from us and we needed to fix this 3-4 start.  I thought that was the conversation I’d be getting here.  ‘What are we going to do now?  You told me we were heading in the right direction.  How are we going to fix this 3-4 start?’  I thought that was going to be what I’d be talking about during the bye week.  So very sad day for that. 

(on the message to the team today)

Similar to this.  We didn’t talk until the end of the day.  We had a lot planned today.  We canceled some things that weren’t necessary to do because this was all kind of unfolding as we were already in the process of meeting.  So we finished what we needed to do, and I finished the day with our plan for the seven days, the off time as a team, and those types of things.  Obviously, they had heard about it through the course of the day.  So I just kind of brought it all together like I am here.  Unfortunately, a lot of these guys never really got a chance to really know Mr. Adams or meet Mr. Adams.  That’s why the timeline was always so important to me.  I showed them tapes of Mr. Adams back in the 60s and 70s.  We show them during training camp so they can see really what he was like and what was important to him and how he put this team together.  Again, that’s why the story is out there, and I said, ‘Take some time to read that.  Some of you guys may have been walking by it for the last couple months, and maybe now it’s time to absorb what’s there and realize what you’re a part of and how important this was to Mr. Adams, who made this all possible.  That’s why you’re sitting (here).  A lot of you guys,’ I said, like we just talked about a second ago about putting this team together, ‘putting this team together was his goal, was his mind.  It’s his money.  He wanted you guys here because he wants to win a championship.  So let’s not let him down.’  I think that’s more the angle it came.  I told some stories about him and about my years as a player and stuff just so they get more of a feeling of what Mr. Adams was like when he was around more, and I think that’s important for them to understand.  We’ll probably do some more things as we go through the next couple weeks.

(on the hope of winning a Super Bowl staying with Mr. Adams until the end)

I think so.  I think it was something that was always important to him.  I don’t know that when he got started he ever knew it would become what it became—I don’t know if anyone could have—but he was knee deep in it when it started.  If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know if it ever would have gotten to where it is today.  He’s a guy that did something everyone told him he was crazy to do.  From what he told me, he was told that often about a lot of things he did, and he was successful in almost everything he tried.  He had that spirit of adventure.  I thought hearing his story and hearing him tell it was awesome.  I’m hoping a lot of you had a chance to hear him because it meant a lot to him and this team meant a lot to him.  Yeah, I got that from the day I met him in 1982.  That’s what he wanted.  He was talking about the Steelers back then.  He was talking about winning those (AFL) championships in the 60s, but he wanted the Super Bowl championship.  I watched him for 30 years.  We got close, obviously, here once.  We were close a lot of times, just didn’t quite get that done yet.  It’s something that, yes, he talked about a lot.  It was important to him.  He didn’t just say it; he meant it.  I knew that because I saw it.  I saw it by the things he did, by the type of people that he brought into the organization with the motivation to win.  Like I said, I never heard him in all the years I’ve been here say, ‘I don’t want that guy.  He’s too expensive.’  It was more, ‘Find a way to get him here.  Find a way to get the job done.  Find a way to get him here.’  It wasn’t, ‘Oh, we don’t want to do that.  We want to do this.’  It was, ‘Why don’t we have that guy on our team?’  We all remember the Peyton (Manning) think a couple years ago.  He wanted him here. He knew what a great player he was and the difference he’d make.  He wanted a championship.  He’d do whatever it took.  I think he tried to show people in the fan base that had been so loyal to him here how important it was for him to give them a winner also in return for the open arms that Nashville gave to this organization when it came here and what a great relationship they’ve had.  I think his whole thing was he’s going to bring something special to Nashville.  The job’s not done yet, but we got close quite often. I think he feels like at some point we’ll accomplish that, and that’s our job.

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