For most of the last two weeks, the Titans have been regarded as the NFL’s answer to Typhoid Mary. The Titans not only objected to that characterization but also used it as motivation for Tuesday night’s game against Buffalo.
Although some may regard the team’s decision to have a chip on its shoulder regarding criticism of the team’s behavior in a pandemic as tone deaf, the only ears that matter are those in the locker room. To the extent that the Titans were able to craft an us-against-the-world vibe from the comments made about their COVID-19 conduct, mission accomplished.
Coaches and players constantly look for motivation. Even though the claim they listen to no outside voices, they do. They always do. They listen in search of something that can be used to increase focus, determination, and effort.
Despite the messages being sent by the league office last week regarding the likelihood that the Titans would face historic sanctions, the league has opted to not pick an in-season fight with Tennessee. Those messages, and the talk around the league that the NFL’s now-abandoned plans sparked, likely strengthened Tennessee’s resolve to stick it to anyone and everyone who had anything and everything negative to say about them.
The Titans may have to find new motivation moving forward, unless they can find a way to keep going back to the well as to the notion that everyone is upset with them, even if currently no one is.