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Titans ownership issues trace to lack of clear succession plan

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 2:  A Tennessee Titans helmet displays the Futbol Americano logo during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at The Coliseum on October 2, 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Colts defeated the Titans 31-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) Getty Images

Neither the Titans nor the NFL will talk publicly about the ownership issues that have prompted “daily, weekly, monthly” discussions between the team and the league. Which made it slightly harder to find out the specific nature of the issue.

Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the dispute arises from the fact that team founder Bud Adams did not establish a clear succession plan prior to his passing. Instead, the team transferred to a trust owned in equal amounts by Adams’ daughters (Susie Adams Smith and Amy Adams Strunk) and the children of his late son, Kenneth Adams III. Equal ownership by three separate branches of the family has prevented any one person from owning the team in the way the NFL contemplates.

The heirs of Bud Adams have attempted to make Strunk the controlling owner by agreement, but an agreement among the three to put Strunk in the ownership role doesn’t satisfy the league’s requirement of a person with the clear, legal power to do the things that a controlling owner must be able to do.

The league regarded the written consent to make Strunk the owner a useful interim step, but the league also does not believe that the move goes far enough over the long haul. Which is why the NFL is expecting something more.

The easiest way to fix the problem would be for Strunk to completely buy out the other two thirds, but Strunk may not have the resources to pull it off. The Titans are trying to come up with other possible solutions, but the league is taking a black-and-white approach to the situation. The league believes that there must be one owner in full legal control of the team, and the Titans currently don’t satisfy that requirement.

If they ultimately can’t, the options will be to fight the league in court — or to do the thing that the Titans stubbornly insist they won’t be doing: Sell the team.

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48 Responses to “Titans ownership issues trace to lack of clear succession plan”
  1. rollteal says: Jan 26, 2016 3:58 PM

    LMAO !!!!

  2. jonathankrobinson424 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:03 PM

    …..The NFL would love to see the Mannings and their general partners buy this franchise……

  3. xavier179 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:04 PM

    Sell the team and divide the returns three ways, this is the best solution.

  4. steelerben says: Jan 26, 2016 4:04 PM

    Nice to see that Adams went out with one more double barrel salute.

  5. Bob says: Jan 26, 2016 4:06 PM

    Typical Bud Adams — clueless.

  6. 1bbfan says: Jan 26, 2016 4:08 PM

    Ralph Wilson had the perfect plan. That’s why Buffalo loves him.

  7. woodbridgekid73 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:08 PM

    I thought Amy Adams was pretty hot in American Hustle.

  8. stew48 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:09 PM

    With the league record in court, you can guess what the kids will do.

  9. samadams14 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:10 PM

    Somewhere the dancing, bird flipping, cowboy hat wearing Bud Adams is smiling down on us.

  10. vancouversportsbro says: Jan 26, 2016 4:17 PM

    Best coaches/coordinators in the league:
    1) Mike Mularkey
    2) Terry Robiskie
    3) Curtis Modkins
    4) Monte Kiffin
    5) Dom Capers

  11. rundmc3 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:17 PM

    this is pretty simple. Sell and split the sale $ 3 ways. either that or a steel cage match between the 3 parties. My money would be on susie. she sounds fiesty

  12. rundmc3 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:18 PM

    this is pretty simple. Sell and split the sale $ 3 ways. either that or a steel cage match between the 3 parties. My money would be on susie. she sounds fiesty.

  13. cybersqueak says: Jan 26, 2016 4:19 PM

    Who is this “source with knowledge”? Does this person actually exist?

  14. daramsman says: Jan 26, 2016 4:19 PM

    So the Rams get ripped out of St. Louis to a city that did not ask for them to come back. Then Chargers/Raiders situation is a full on dumpster fire and now the league is going to wrangle the Titans from Adams’ children. The cartel that is the NFL is going implode soon. What a mess.

  15. mogogo1 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:20 PM

    “The easiest way to fix the problem would be for Strunk to completely buy out the other two thirds”
    __________

    That is incorrect. 100% ownership has NEVER been a requirement by the NFL. Until the 1980s a majority owner having at least 51% was required but the NFL dropped that down to a 30% controlling interest. From the sound of it, the issue is that there are 3 entities having equal 33% ownership and/or the trust is a problem since a trust isn’t the same thing legally as an individual owning something. This should be fixable by just few percentage points changing hand and/or the trust being removed from the ownership picture.

  16. mcwest1 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:26 PM

    Could the parties involved give Strunk Power of Attorney? By the sound of this article, the problem is not having one person in charge of legal decisions.

  17. kd75 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:29 PM

    The Giants don’t have one owner with full control of the team.
    Mara and Tisch each own 50%.
    They just operate in harmony.

    What’s going on here is none of the three can afford to buy out the other two and none want to give up their stake on the cheap to their sister for the good of the family.

    Prisoners dilemma with a family twist.

  18. rodd1 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:29 PM

    Who cares anything about the Titans ?

  19. dogsweat9 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:33 PM

    The Titans will move to L.A.

    Rams and Titans in L.A. is a good thing.

    AFC West

    Los Angeles Titans
    Denver Broncos
    San Diego Chargers
    Kansas City Chiefs

    AFC South

    San Antonio Raiders
    Houston Texans
    Indianapolis Colts
    Miami Dolphins(With The Jaguars moving to London and switching to the AFC East)

  20. mariorat says: Jan 26, 2016 4:39 PM

    More probable than not that the NFL has its head up their… again…

  21. Kelly's Chronicles says: Jan 26, 2016 4:39 PM

    Not that it would have helped the titans on field product any but the Packer’s Bob Harlan before he retired put a succession plan in place and after a brief hiccup with Jones they selected Mark Murphy who had time to learn under Harlan and keep the winning tradition going. Continuity is a big thing.

  22. eric0711 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:51 PM

    As a Titans fan, I can only hope this is the League’s way of getting rid of crappy owners who have contempt for their fans. Let the bidding begin!

  23. Rdog says: Jan 26, 2016 4:56 PM

    Bob says:
    Jan 26, 2016 4:06 PM

    Typical Bud Adams — clueless.

    ——————————————-

    You’re probably right – he is pretty clueless from his coffin. I don’t think that thing even has wifi in it.

  24. cosmoman11 says: Jan 26, 2016 4:57 PM

    It shouldn’t be that hard for an attorney to come up with an agreement that gives Amy Strunk total control. If the NFL didn’t like like it that would mean that they really only care about getting the Adams family out.

  25. keeppounding says: Jan 26, 2016 4:57 PM

    You probably don’t need the money and you probably don’t even like football so let me present this argument. Let me have the team. Ill hire a consultant like Mr. Richardson did to find a great pro personnel guy and I wont tie his hands behind his back. Ill try to influence my GM to hire a solid defensive coach and ask they collaborate to bring in players that fit his scheme (like i said no hands tied up). I would make sure we fill holes in the offseason through free agency and take the best player available in the draft. I would represent that city with class and make it my home. I would create a family atmosphere and bring in high character guys. I will personally cut guys like Greg Hardy and Ray Rice and that would be the only thing I weighed in on. Thanks for your consideration.

    Go Panthers.

  26. celticsforever says: Jan 26, 2016 4:57 PM

    Again, the NFL is trying to tell an independent business enterprise how they can or cannot operate. Antitrust paperwork anyone?? 🙂

    I would love to see the league shredded apart. Then start anew, without the old boys club, without the “defenseless receiver” rule, and without Goodell.

  27. keeppounding says: Jan 26, 2016 5:00 PM

    I forgot to mention Ill give my coach time to build a team nobody wants to be the browns.

  28. BIG RED says: Jan 26, 2016 5:15 PM

    Two of them own 33.33% each.

    If one sells off 1% ( which should be worth about 10 million ) then the other would have a clear majority ownership ( 33.3 vs. 32.3 )

    You’re welcome.

  29. themboys5150 says: Jan 26, 2016 5:16 PM

    As a Dad.. Bud Adams took care of his Kids and Grand Kids.. Screw the NFL…

  30. gotitan says: Jan 26, 2016 5:19 PM

    @Rdog says:
    Jan 26, 2016 4:56 PM

    Bob says:
    Jan 26, 2016 4:06 PM

    Typical Bud Adams — clueless.

    ——————————————-

    You’re probably right – he is pretty clueless from his coffin. I don’t think that thing even has wifi in it.
    ___________________________________
    I wouldn’t call a Billionaire “clueless”.

    Also, Mark Davis doesn’t have a 30% stake in the Raiders, why is this different for us?

    The Rooneys only own about 51% of the Steelers.

  31. welcomehomelosangelesrams says: Jan 26, 2016 5:19 PM

    daramsman says: Jan 26, 2016 4:19 PM

    “So the Rams get ripped out of St. Louis to a city that did not ask for them to come back”

    That’s right….don’t let the facts get in the way or your rant.

  32. ReligionIsForIdiots says: Jan 26, 2016 5:24 PM

    vancouversportsbro says:
    Jan 26, 2016 4:17 PM
    Best coaches/coordinators in the league:
    1) Mike Mularkey
    2) Terry Robiskie
    3) Curtis Modkins
    4) Monte Kiffin
    5) Dom Capers

    7 31
    ——–

    If you’re fishing for downvotes, at least do it right.

    Carolina deserved to be in the super bowl.

  33. davikes says: Jan 26, 2016 5:25 PM

    They should just take it public, like the Packers. (OK, I’m joking, but the league doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on when they allow exceptions like the Packers.)

  34. realfootballfan says: Jan 26, 2016 5:29 PM

    This is exactly what I said it was the other day when Underwood spoke on it, and they’ll either eventually have to sell or allow one of the children to buy the others out.

  35. BIG RED says: Jan 26, 2016 5:57 PM

    Davis and his mother own 47% of the Raiders.

  36. pgolf3 says: Jan 26, 2016 6:17 PM

    It will be settled by spring , and the new owners will be the manning’s with payton in control. this has been the plan for quite some time…

  37. bobsnygiants says: Jan 26, 2016 6:17 PM

    Sue the NFL

  38. learysdisciples says: Jan 26, 2016 6:35 PM

    What’s PFTs succession plan? Lay it all on the line, we want to know.

  39. realfootballfan says: Jan 26, 2016 6:35 PM

    gotitan ,

    Mark Davis doesn’t own the Raiders. His mother does. However, even in that event, it’s easier to do because he’s an only child. All Adams had to do was name one child the controlling owner similar to how the Maras and Tishes did with the sons who have taken over in recent years upon their fathers’ deaths, but he didn’t do it. It has nothing to do with the percentage or even the trust aspect as the league voted to change that last year. A controlling owner who inherits a team can own as little as 5% of a team now, something they also just recently changed, just as long as family members altogether own 30% collectively, which is the Rooney situation. Adams didn’t name a controlling heir, so yeah this won’t go well in court for everyone saying the league doesn’t have a leg to stand on. It’s pretty black and white in their constitution that all of the owners agreed on, including their own. It’s not their fault that he didn’t set up his succession plan correctly upon his death. Also, it’s not as simple as the other 2 saying okay, now she owns this part on paper through legal docs. She would actually have to buy the other 2 children out, which is probably not possible because she doesn’t have enough cash on hand. That’s kind of important too when you’re trying to avoid owners not having enough money to make payroll if something serious happens, I don’t know, like the financial crash of just about 7 years ago. It’s why the league is so weary of Mark Davis being in such a high profile market like LA.

  40. jlokc says: Jan 26, 2016 7:06 PM

    I envision Bud Adams steaming at all those owners meetings where the Rooney family played the “Founder of The League” card in excusing their delays and manipulations in regards to the Steeler ownership structure following the death of Art Rooney (up to, and including, racino ownership).
    “I was a founder of the AFL! And the League can work with my children with kid gloves and reverence just like they did with the Rooney kids!”

  41. cowboy2016 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:07 PM

    At this point they should be named the Tennessee Titanics

  42. monkeesfan says: Jan 26, 2016 7:19 PM

    And what is the league trying to accomplish with this? There is NO evidence the “split” ownership of the Bud Adams estate can’t make payroll or keep the team on solid footing. Given how personal spite so often drives Roger Goodell (see the “Spygate” and “Deflategate” disinformation campaigns against the Patriots and the “Bountygate” fabrication against the Saints) one suspects this entire dispute is just another fit of ignorant pique on the part of Goodell.

  43. liongator says: Jan 26, 2016 7:23 PM

    this is so simple….Jimmy Haslam is a Tennessee guy, so he trades the Browns for the Titans. He gets to go home, and the factory of sadness can run 24 hours a day, with the three owners each taking an 8 hour shift a day as supervisor.

  44. realfootballfan says: Jan 26, 2016 7:28 PM

    jlokc ,

    That wasn’t the Rooney’s problem. By the time he died, they’d already agreed to change it to that the controlling owner only had to own 30% of the team back in ’84 (it’s since changed a couple of years ago to that they only have to own 5% as long as the whole family owns a collective 30%) if it’s gained through inheritance. Their problem was that the other children had interests in gambling revenue streams, the dog tracks if I remember correctly, and they did comply with that ruling to allow Dan to remain in control. This is a pretty black and white rule. He didn’t name a proper heir, so she needs to buy them out or sell.

  45. savior72 says: Jan 26, 2016 7:50 PM

    London Titans maybe?

  46. doggeatdogg says: Jan 26, 2016 7:51 PM

    @kd75
    “The Giants don’t have one owner with full control of the team.
    Mara and Tisch each own 50%.
    They just operate in harmony.
    What’s going on here is none of the three can afford to buy out the other two and none want to give up their stake on the cheap to their sister for the good of the family.
    Prisoners dilemma with a family twist.”

    —————

    This sums it up. It’s like they have a 33.333333333333 split but no one wants to be 32 and 32 so the third has legal authority as represented by the percentage in ownership. They need to sell.

  47. jobob247 says: Jan 27, 2016 1:32 AM

    Poor Marcus.

  48. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jan 27, 2016 6:50 AM

    Why have report the comment right by the thumbs up and thumbs down buttons?

    Go Titans

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