5-at-10: Titans massive moves, Pat McAfee’s next wave of headlines, Rory’s changed view

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel responds to questions during a news conference after the team's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel responds to questions during a news conference after the team's NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

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Titanic change

So Mike Vrabel was handed his walking papers.

The Titans are almost assuredly going to part ways with free agent-to-be Derrick Henry, who had quite the walk-off game last Sunday with 153 yards and a TD as Tennessee denied Jacksonville a playoff spot with its best game of the season.

It's clear the 2024 Titans are going to be in total rebuild mode, and they are going to do it with a first-year coach (at least with the franchise) and likely the worst QB1 in their division.

How's this for a marketing slogan: "Titans football, we put the titan in the Titanic."

Let's start with the HC news from Tuesday afternoon.

Please remember Vrabel has a career winning record in his six years in Nashville and won NFL coach of the year in 2021 with Ryan Tannehill as his QB1.

Yes, the last 24 games — 6-18 and even worse in the AFC South — have been brutal, but there are two clear factors that must be addressed before and after you send your HC walking.

First, do you have a plan in place to hire someone better. Hey, Bill Belichick reportedly has a home in Nashville. And if that is the case, I'd help Vrabel pack myself.

But to send a head coach as respected around the league and in the room as Vrabel out of town with the very real chance that this carousel could land on a hot-named coordinator is inviting disaster.

The second thing when looking at these decisions is the reaction from the other franchises and some of the key league insiders.

Vrabel was fired a little after lunchtime CST Tuesday. By 2 p.m., there were reports that if the Pats move on from Belichick, the Pats were extremely interested in Vrabel. Heck, I even saw reports that if Mike Tomlin took a hiatus in Pittsburgh, Vrabel was their guy.

I'd even heard that Vrabel may have walked in and said some things in his exit interview and purposely got canned so he could pick and choose his next spot rather than looking to be traded and subtract from his next team's draft stock.


If I had to name a front-runner here, I'd look at San Francisco DC Steve Wilks — remember Titans GM Ran Carthon is from the 49ers family — to get one of the first interviews.

As for Henry, if Sunday was his last game, what a career the former Alabama star has had in Nashville.

It also begs the question of how much gas is still left in Henry's tank. Is he still going to be an RB1 moving forward? Who would be willing to invest RB1 cap space on a power back with those kind miles of the tires?

Check these usage numbers:

— As a four-year starter in high school he had 1,397 carries for 12,124 yards and 153 rushing touchdowns.

— In three years and 39 games at Alabama, Henry had 602 carries for 3,591 yards and 42 rushing touchdowns.

— In eight years and 119 games in Nashville, he has 2,030 carries for 9,502 yards and 90 rushing touchdowns.

So, in the last 15 years, Henry has 4,029 carries for 25,217 yards and 285 rushing scores.

The Titans letting Henry walk in this day-and-age would make a lot more sense than sending Vrabel to the curb.

But without the offensive anchor of the better part of the last decade, whomever the Titans find to lead this crew will miss Henry's reliability and production.

Even if it's a surprising upgrade like Belichick.

Say what

So Aaron Rodgers continues to make waves and headlines on "The Pat McAfee Show." Which is a good thing since he is paid seven figures for his weekly appearance.

Granted, the highly entertaining McAfee Show is far from the place to expect serious conversation or debate. Heck, not since Halle Berry allegedly got a million bucks to show her chest in "Swordfish" has showing a set of boobs made this kind of coin naturally.

But Rodgers has become the lightning rod of the set on his regular Tuesday appearance lately.

He's feuding with Jimmy Kimmell and tried to clarify last week's comments yesterday about how Kimmell would be pleased if a list of friends and guests of convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein never saw the light of day.

There was nuance and semantics in Rodgers' explanation, and it felt like it was clearly viewed and reviewed by a team of lawyers.

Rodgers' hour-long interview was truly interesting and at times insulting. Man, the McAfee language — Rodgers dropped three F bombs and the entire crew only avoids that word and some bodily references that George Carlin warned of us — is assuredly not suitable for work or kids.

Still, one of his points must be addressed, and it has nothing to do with the Kimmell feud because of the Epstein-Hollywood scandal or even Rodgers' COVID*19 stances and his anti-vaxxing beliefs.

Rodgers spent more than a minute attacking ESPN while appearing on the McAfee Show, which of course airs on ESPN.

And Rodgers' discourse on the efforts of the current media to create controversy and the efforts of websites to generate clicks with overstated eight-word headlines is impossible to refute.

Media at all levels has been guilty of that, and me being in the media makes me complicit no matter how little I try to participate in the grandstanding.

(Side note: We had a letter wondering why I was still in Chattanooga? Maybe that's why. Maybe I don't create enough controversy, which in turn creates more clicks.)

But I believe this as a fan of the McAfee Show: Despite the recent controversy — which ironically is just as self-serving for Rodgers, McAfee and even Kimmell as it is for the media involved — I enjoy McAfee and his merry band of stooges for the same reason I loved the Dan Le Batard Show.

It's not the outlandish things said just to be outlandish. It's different.

Their controversy comes from the show's authenticity.

And in a lot of ways if the rest of the media realm could deliver the same authenticity of the McAfee Show, we'd all be better off.

Just with a few less curse words maybe.

A change in fore sight?

Rory McIlroy — one of the harshest critics of — has softened his hard stance denouncing the Saudi-backed golfing venture.

Last week on this podcast, he even admitted that if the conditions were right he would play LIV golf and with or against LIV golfers.

To be fair, the interview offered more of a realizational vibe of "Can't beat 'em join 'em" than anything close to a mea culpa.

And that's completely understandable since LIV has bottomless pockets and the PGA leadership has packed 14 clowns into a Dodge Dart to travel to every meeting.

In truth, though, McIlroy's concession could also be a boon for golf and a bridge for the leagues even if those same concessions devalues the best non-major-championship intrigue in the sport.

As we have spoken here multiple times, the rivalry between the sides is a juicy story, and one that if pitted against each other, would generate a ton of interest.

Bracket-style team events would be right behind the majors as the most-watched tournaments of the year.

And, as long as the emotion is still present, a PGA-LIV Ryder Cup-style event would print money. And it would make Patrick Cantay happy to get a check and find a hat big enough — and lucrative enough — for his melon.


This and that

— It's pretty clear that Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly is not my favorite elected official, but egad our city's top gig right now has Kelly and activist (that's a mighty kind euphemism in my view) Marie Mott with their hats in the ring. If those are the only the answers, then — like the presidential pool of candidates — we need to find better questions.

Visor tip to @Powellanalytics for this chart. How great are current sack artists TJ Watt and Myles Garrett, two of the front-runners for defensive player of the year? Well, each recently played his 100th career NFL game and they rank 1 and 2 respectively in the 'sacks per game' category of players with at least 100 games. Cool right? Made a little more cool when you see that 3 and 4 on the list are Reggie White and LT.

— Tons of upsets last night in college hoops. No. 1 Houston lost at Iowa State. No. 2 Purdue got drummed at Nebraska. Man, highly ranked teams on the road in conference games are bona fide targets.

— Nice win for Kentucky last night. The Cats are pretty stout.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which is the best non-game-commentating personality on the ESPN family of networks currently?

Which is Titans is the best all-time?

Which word comes to mind when we think of Trevor Lawrence's NFL career to date?

Which describes Rory's changed view of LIV best — admitting defeat or seeing the writing on the wall?

You know the drill.

As for today, Jan. 10, let's review.

Yikes "The Sopranos" debuted today 25 years ago.

Yes, it's one of the five best TV shows of all-time, and yes, I think we have done that Rushmore before. Which way Wednesday, which — if any — TV shows are better than Tony's family tribute?

Caesar crossed the Rubicon on this day in 49 BC.

Do you use the phrase "crossing the Rubicon," as in what Caesar did when he defied the Roman Senate and reached a point of no return?

Put on your thinking caps friends and let's do a Rushmore of historical events that became accepted phrases in our dialogue.

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