And it’s not Tannehill’s job to mentor Malik Willis.
It’s Tannehill’s job to be the best quarterback for the Titans that he can be. It’s his duty to himself and his family to maximize his talents, abilities, and earning potential. Why would he help groom the man who undoubtedly would love to replace him?
That’s just not how it works, not unless the circumstances are conducive to an obvious passing of the baton, and the starter is on board with it. In college or high school, that’s easier to achieve. At the NFL, it usually isn’t.
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner injected himself into the story on Tuesday, tweeting this: “I will never understand the ‘I’m not here to mentor the next guy‘ mentality . . . so for all you young QBs that need a mentor, DM me & Ill be that guy, happy to help in any way I can!”
What if Tannehill isn’t ready to concede that Willis is the next guy? What if Tannehill, who is still only 33, intends to stick around for more than the four years of the rookie contract Willis will sign?
Before injecting himself into someone else’s situation, Warner needs to remember his own experience as the veteran who was expected to defer to “the next guy.” In 2004, Warner wasn’t happy with the fact that he was benched for then-rookie Eli Manning after leading the Giants to a 5-4 start.
“My play yesterday I don’t think had anything to do with that,” Warner said when he was benched after a 17-14 loss to the Cardinals. “Read into that as much as you want, but there is a bigger picture here. There’s more things that are trying to be accomplished here, and that’s why the decision was made.”
Maybe Warner mentored Eli too well.
Regardless, no NFL starter who intends to keep that job indefinitely should be expected or inclined to help his understudy become good enough to take over. While it may be good for the team, in some cases a player’s extreme commitment to team results in the player no longer having a job.