Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill believes his comments about it not being his job to frame 2022 NFL third-round pick Malik Willis were overblown.
“I didn’t mean to disrespect Malik or anything like that,” Tannehill said on Tuesday. “We’ve been in constant communication since he was drafted. I’m disappointed with the way things have turned out and got a bit twisted. I’ve been proud to be a great teammate my whole career since I was child and that I practiced sports for young people.
Asked about mentoring Willis earlier this month, Tannehill said he understands the dynamics of a competitive quarterback room, but it’s not his job to mentor the rookie quarterback. Titans coach Mike Vrabel added that “Tannehill’s job is to make sure the team is ready to win games.”
Tannehill said Tuesday he contacted Willis as soon as his comments made headlines. Tannehill made it clear that he and Willis would compete, but he stressed that he was ready to help Willis and be a great teammate. He also said that as the leader of the team, it was his duty to help the rookie.
“As soon as it exploded, I reached out and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a great teammate for you, I’m going to support you. It’s not what it’s claimed to be at all,” he said. “He’s been good. He’s been great with it all the time. It’s been great having him in the room and building that relationship.”
Tannehill said he takes the word mentor “seriously”, which may explain why his previous comments were misunderstood.
“There are a few people I consider mentors. There are hundreds of people who have helped me throughout my career, but there are only a few people I would consider mentors,” he said. he declared. “A mentorship is something that both people have to want, both people have to be willing to participate in, and it’s going to take a lot of time, energy and focus.”
Tennessee has begun to entertain the idea of selecting a future quarterback ahead of the draft this year. The Titans were the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but lost to the Cincinnati Bengals at home in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last season. Tannehill’s three interceptions played a part in the loss.
The Titans took the field as a team for the first time on Monday. So far, Tannehill and Willis’ relationship seems to be headed in the right direction.
“That was cool,” Willis said. “He’s a great guy who works very hard and wants everyone to get their job. He’s definitely someone you can look up to.”