Titans Caravan kicks off in Franklin
By Marcus Stone, Sports Editor
photo by Brandy Blanton
The Tennessee Titans kicked off their 2013 Academy Sports and Outdoors Titans Caravan Monday with a special breakfast for season ticket holders at the Williamson County Ag Expo Park.
Voice of the Titans, and Battle Ground Academy alum, Mike Keith opened the program saying he was very excited to get the caravan started in Franklin. Over the next 10 days they will travel nearly 4,000 miles.
“These events, starting here, are something very special to thank our season ticket holders and hopefully give a unique insight into what went into this draft – less than 48 hours after the process ended,” Keith said.
As the focal point of the day’s festivities, Keith sat down and talked with Titans’ Executive Vice President / General Manager Ruston Webster, the man at the helm of the team’s draft.
Two days after the three-day event ended, Webster is still very satisfied with the outcome, having filled several key needs – the main one being fulfilled by taking Alabama right guard Chance Warmack with the No. 10 pick.
“I had a list of things on my grease board in the office and the first one said: fix the offensive line,” said Webster. “Last year we went through so many combinations due to injuries that it was just time. We had to get better there.”
Staffers in the team’s draft room were holding their breath one pick prior as two players being targeted with the pick were still on the board. The New York Jets took one, selecting Alabama corner back Dee Milliner, making the decision easier.
Webster admitted if the Jets took Warmack, Milliner would be a Titan.
“Either way, we were going to be in good shape,” he said. “We were going to get an Alabama guy and get a good player.”
Warmack fits the Titans perfectly according to Webster, praising him as being a big-time player that doesn’t act like he is big time.
Moments after a press conference for the Warmack pick, a scout informed the general manager that University of Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter was falling down the draft. Having a high grade on Hunter, the team tried unsuccessfully to trade into the end of the first round.
When Hunter was still available to start Round 2, Webster inked a deal with the San Francisco 49ers for the No. 34 overall pick – giving up their second round pick (40) and a seventh rounder, along with a third round pick in the 2014 draft.
“I knew that Justin Hunter was not going to be there when we picked,” Webster said. “We had to get up to one of the top three teams to have a chance to get him.”
Titans’ Executive Vice President of Administration and Facilities Don MacLachlan also spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people, thanking them for both their attendance and participation.
Having done focus groups with fans, both during and after the season, MacLachlan feels the team has used input to better the fan experience.
“The feedback we got – both positive and negative – really helped us as we built towards the 2013 season,” he said. “Events like this are something that came up.”
Despite hosting tours of LP Field in which more than 7,000 people have visited the facility, putting on a more intimate speaker series is a way for the team to bring their front office to the fans.
With 144 consecutive sellouts, the organization must be doing something right.
“It’s rewarding to our organization to hear season ticket holders come up and say: you reacted to things that we wanted to see done,” MacLachlan said. “That’s something that we’ve got to do.”
Posted on: 4/29/2013