What can we make of the Tennessee Titans? On one hand they're a solid, tough-nosed team with a roster filled with mostly high-character guys. Yet, on the other, they can't seem to get out of their own way.
The franchise, dating back to Houston, has been littered with quality players and coaches. But over the past few years, players like first-round draft picks Adam "Pacman" Jones and Albert Haynesworth didn't care much for upholding the team's image or being good teammates. The shooting death of beloved quarterback Steve McNair rattled the franchise's emotional core. The moody behavior of highly touted but inconsistent quarterback Vince Young, coupled with a strained relationship with longtime coach Jeff Fisher, cost both their jobs this winter.
Now there's third-year wide receiver Kenny Britt, who is closing in on platinum status for frequent police-blotter appearances.
Granted, his six arrests since being drafted 30th overall in 2009 are minor in circumstance, but they're frequent in nature. He fits into the "repeat offender" category of the NFL's player conduct policy and, at the very least, will probably have a nice chat with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once more pressing issues -- like helping settle the lockout -- are out of the way.
There were 48 players on hand when the Titans got together to train this week in Nashville. Britt wasn't there. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving charges in New Jersey. Later the same day he was arrested at a car wash by undercover cops. He was charged with tampering with evidence, obstructing a government function and resisting arrest when the officers approached him because they suspecting he was holding a marijuana-filled cigar, according to reports. They're all minor charges that probably won't result in jail time.
What a juxtaposition, though: Rookie quarterback Jake Locker is trying to learn the pro game while grinding it out on a high school field with committed teammates -- including Pro Bowl tailback Chris Johnson -- and Britt is recklessly working his way out of the NFL, even though he might not even realize it.
Britt could be suspended, either by the team or the league. The Titans don't seem ready to cut ties with him, or rush to sign a prime free-agent receiver. They could protect themselves by having a few wideouts on speed dial in case Britt slips up again, because there is a pattern here.
The Collins option
Even so, players can mature. Jones is now referred to as Adam instead of "Pacman," and he's been a model citizen with the Bengals, of all teams, known for harboring those with spotty character reps. Young, talented and enigmatic players can help win football games, though, especially when the starting quarterback could be a rookie who needs a freakishly gifted receiver to help the transition. Britt has the potential to be a star.
"We're looking forward to talking to all the guys," first-year coach Mike Munchak told reporters Thursday after Britt's most recent legal run-in. "Unfortunately, he's had a few things that have come for him in the offseason."
Munchak is in about as tough a spot as a coach can be in, especially with the lockout keeping him from talking to Britt until football resumes. Once football resumes, Munchak will have to go through the formality of Young's release, get his draft picks signed, gather his players and probably tackle 50 other things -- including getting Britt's ear.
He knew what he was getting into, though, even with Britt. Munchak has been with the franchise for 29 years, first as a Hall of Fame guard before taking over the offensive line. He was hired to replace Fisher this spring. To him, the theatre is nothing new.
If Britt can't get it together, Tennessee won't be reluctant to cast him into exile. Jones, Haynesworth and Young -- all first-round picks like Britt -- are or will be former Titans. Britt could grow into something special, though, and that would be good for him and Tennessee, which needs someone or something to help pull it in a different and more positive direction.