The Tennessee Titans have a new man calling the shots. Tommy Smith, son-in-law of the late owner, Bud Adams, is the team’s new president and chief executive officer.
What it means exactly for the future of the franchise will be determined in due time, but coach Mike Munchak said Smith has been “very much in the loop” for years.
Adams’ daughters, Susie Adams Smith and Amy Adams Hunt, will serve as co-chairwomen. Kenneth Adams IV, grandson of the late Titans owner, will join the board as a director.
Smith released a statement on behalf of the family:
“Through the years, our families and I have been consistently updated on all aspects of the organization from football operations to the business side from those who run those areas and we will continue those interactions on a daily basis. We will be taking all the necessary steps, in concert with the league office, to remain in compliance with league rules in our ownership structure. That process will not be immediate, but it has begun.
“Until we gain that approval, we will stay out of the spotlight, but know that we are directing the organization and staying informed of daily activities. The continuity and knowledge I have gained in decades of being involved with the team will aid our organization during this transition.”
Smith’s announcement was expected. Before Adams died, Smith had been more involved in the organization through communication with general manager Ruston Webster, executive vice president Don MacLachlan and Munchak.
He also has a long history with the franchise.
After graduating from the University of Texas, Smith worked in banking. He joined KSA Industries, the parent company of the Houston Oilers, in 1974. He served as executive assistant to Adams with KSA and was a member of the football team’s executive committee.
In the late-1990s, Smith oversaw the franchise’s relocation from Houston to Nashville, and he worked with the Kansas City-based architecture and engineering firm then known as HOK Sport in the planning and developing of the downtown stadium.
The Houston native regularly attended NFL owners meetings with Adams until about 10 years ago, but he did not have an office in Nashville.
‘Knowledgeable in everything’
During his weekly radio show Tuesday night on 104.5-FM, Munchak said Smith’s emergence was a positive during a transition period for the franchise.
“He is very knowledgeable in everything we have been doing. You may not have seen him here in Nashville, but I have talked to him over the last couple of years, and he is very knowledgeable with our roster and what we are doing and why we are doing it,” Munchak said.
“It is not something that is going to be a very difficult transition for him in any way. … He wants a winner as much as Mr. Adams did, the same way. And he is going to do whatever it takes to accomplish the same feat we have been trying to do.
“… I think the thing is they want everyone to relax and know that things aren’t going to change and they are very happy with how everything is going in Nashville, I’m sure, and we’ll just move forward from there.”
Smith’s wife, Susie, and her sister, Amy, each own about 33 percent of the franchise.
The family of Bud Adams’ deceased son, Kenneth Adams III, also owns one-third — grandsons Kenneth IV and Barclay Cunningham Adams and their mother, Susan Lewis.
In the coming months, they will select a controlling owner. The NFL will have to approve the ownership structure in a vote of other team owners. The annual owners meeting is scheduled for March 23-26, but the league could hold a brief meeting before then.
Smith isn’t expected to move to Nashville as part of the structure change. Indications are the Adams family has a good relationship with Webster, MacLachlan and Munchak.
“We want our fans to know that we have the best interest of the franchise in mind and we share both Bud’s passion for the game and his commitment to the city of Nashville and the Mid-South Region,” Smith said in the statement. “We are excited for what lies ahead for this franchise and our fans.”