As the seconds were ticking away in the AFC Championship Game, Ryan Tannehill was obviously frustrated.
That’s when he got the kind of support from a friend he needed.
In an exchange captured by Inside the NFL on Showtime, Marcus Mariota — the guy who Tannehill replaced midseason — consoled him, saying: “I am excited for you – it’s the start of something great, brother. I am so excited for you.”
While that moment was made poignant by the fact Mariota’s on his way out, the way the former No. 2 overall pick handled a potentially awkward situation was a special thing for Tannehill.
“Marcus is an incredible human being, and I have so much respect and love for him,” Tannehill said, via Jim Wyatt of the team’s official website. “The way he handled things – it was an incredibly tough situation. He was in Tennessee for five years, and it was his team and where he made his home. The way things went down, I don’t think many guys in the world would handle it the way he did. He handed it like a true professional. He was supportive of me from Day One. I know he was hurting, and I tried to be empathetic with that throughout the season and give support to him as well. But he handled it so well – he was supportive of me, helped me out on game days, in preparation during the week. He was just a consistent guy throughout the year.
“We are great friends and we will continue to be great friends.”
Mariota might have lost his job to Tannehill, but there still should be sufficient interest in him this offseason. And even if he isn’t handed a starting job, his ability to handle this season and stay a part of what they were doing won’t be lost on other teams, especially if they’re drafting a quarterback and want to put an adult next to him.
“I know he has big things in front of him in his career,” Tannehill said of Mariota. “And I’ll be cheering him on every step of the way.”
He probably won’t be the only one.