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Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel Makes Rounds at Senior Bowl

Posted Jan 23, 2018

A day after being introduced as head coach of the Titans at a press conference in Nashville, new Titans coach Mike Vrabel was surrounded by familiar faces from all over the league at the Senior Bowl.

MOBILE, Ala. – Just a few years ago, Jon Robinson probably felt like a rock star here at the Senior Bowl.

After paying his dues for so long as a scout, Robinson was hired as a general manager with the Titans. And when he walked around this city, his colleagues congratulated him at every turn.

Here on Tuesday, it was Mike Vrabel’s turn to walk the walk. A day after being introduced as head coach of the Titans at a press conference in Nashville, Vrabel was surrounded by familiar faces from all over the league in a place known as the NFL’s hotspot during Senior Bowl week.

He received handshakes, and pats on the back.

And business cards.

“He has a lot of friends walking through the hallways, guys coming up to him and congratulating him, and ‘Can I send you my resume?’” Robinson, speaking of Vrabel, said with a smile. “But I am proud for him. I think you saw it in his press conference. He is a football coach, he loves football. He and I share the same vision, and we’re just excited to get to work.”

Vrabel, who played 14 years in the NFL and then added to his reputation as an assistant coach, said it felt special to be congratulated by coaches he’s respected over the years.

“Any time you get recognized by your peers, it is special,” Vrabel said. “When guys like Andy Reid, Marvin Lewis and others congratulate you and lend you support, it means a lot.”

It’s been a crazy 24 hours for Vrabel, who was scheduled to coach players in the Senior Bowl.

Then came news he’d been hired.

“I’ve always tried to be somebody that was flexible, and tried to play with my knees bent and my head on a swivel,” Vrabel said. “So that when you get crack-blocked, it doesn’t hurt so bad. But I wouldn’t have missed this past week for anything in the world.

“To get that call, and to be at a press conference yesterday and now down here today, it’s been something.”

Less than 20 hours after being introduced at a press conference in Nashville, Vrabel and Robinson were on the first row of the first Southwest flight from Nashville to Pensacola on Tuesday morning. Vrabel didn’t make it out of the airport before he was recognized by fans. He posed for a picture, and signed an autograph.

From there, the two men, accompanied by Titans Vice President of Administration Vin Marino, made the 59-mile drive to Mobile, where they dove into the action at the Mobile Convention Center. Then came practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Vrabel and Robinson sat with a contingent of Titans scouts on hand for the practices, which are annually attended by coaches, general managers, scouts and assistant coaches across the league. Later, he sat with Reid and Lewis.

He was decked out in a white Titans jacket.

For many new head coaches, like Vrabel, the Senior Bowl is their first exposure to their colleagues since landing a new job. Vrabel was initially scheduled to coach during the practice week – the Texans are coaching the South team. Instead, he was able to take in practices, although he was a busy man as he made his way through the crowd.

“It’s probably a blur,” Phil Savage, Executive Director of Reese's Senior Bowl and a former NFL GM, said of Vrabel’s first day. “He’ll spend more time getting congratulatory handshakes than probably watching players. But I think it’s important for coaches to come down and get a sneak peek at 100 or so of the best players in the country as they move forward and try and get ready for the draft and free agency.

"It is quite a job for Mike. It is a big step forward for him. He is a former player who is well regarded throughout the world of football. People were impressed with him all the way through, and now he gets his opportunity.”

Tuesday was an early step for Vrabel, Robinson and the Titans.

In the coming days, weeks and months, they’ll finalize the coaching staff for 2018, make roster decisions, and the gear up for the NFL Draft. The 2018 season starts in September.

But they’ve started off in full force. Already they’ve met several times about players, coaches, and the roster.

Falcons general manager Scott Pioli, who gave Robinson his first job in the NFL as a scout, approached the pair and wished them well.

It was part of a memorable day.

“He comes up and says, ‘Awesome, I’m pulling for you guys,” Robinson said of Pioli. “He’s one of the best personnel men in the league, and working with (Thomas) Demitroff in Atlanta, it is our family on the other side, in the NFC, saying “we’re rooting for you.”

“We’re excited, and we’re ready to get to work. This is a relationship business, and this is about working with someone you share the same vision, same philosophy with. … In the end, we are in it together, trying to win football games.”