The Tennessee Titans finally figured out why they have not made the playoffs the last four years and why they have not won a playoff game in a decade: There’s been too many people paying attention to them.
Apparently, that is the conclusion of coach Mike Munchak, who — through a team spokesperson — announced Monday that the Titans henceforth will close the bulk of their practices to the media. Print, online, television and radio reporters now will be allowed to watch through individual drills and then will be cleared from the practice field beginning Tuesday through the end of the regular season.
For more than a decade after its arrival in Middle Tennessee the franchise welcomed fans to all training camp workouts. In the last two years those faithful supporters have been limited to 12 appearances.
Now the media — the conduit between the team and its fans for most of the year — have been shut out as well. According to the team’s public relations department, 25 of the NFL’s 32 teams closed at least a portion of their practices last season.
That ought to give them the competitive edge they need.
Keep in mind, the Titans have not had a player earn a Pro Bowl invitation in two years. They have not played on Sunday Night Football (the league’s showcase broadcast) since 2009 and for the second time in three years they have been left out of the Monday Night Football package.
There are two primary ways for them to generate headlines and national publicity for themselves.
One is through a well-informed local media, which can then provide deep and broad coverage of the individuals, coaches and staff personnel who make them unique. In the internet age, good local stories don’t stay local for long. They spread for and wide — and fast.
The other is to win a lot of games.
The latter has been particularly difficult for them in recent years. The former is the easiest thing for anyone to do.
The same dynamic is true for ticket sales. Win games and people will show up.
Absent that, they need a reason beyond the simple fact that a game is being played. If they know and care about the team, fans will be more inclined to spend their money, even when the competitiveness of that team is in question.
Not coincidentally, the Titans have a harder time than ever selling tickets to LP Field.
Maybe they’d just prefer no one watches those games either.