NASHVILLE — Quarterback Ryan Tannehill met with Tennessee Titans media on Tuesday for the first time since his epic playoff collapse. There was much ground to cover and, frankly, a lot to answer for.

Plenty has changed since January 22.

Out of all the answers from Tennessee’s incumbent, no one’s position on Tannehill was changed by his latest press conference. Fans who hold him primarily responsible for the Titans’ playoff failure still do so. Those who have come to grips with the reality that Tennessee’s marriage to Tannehill will continue for at least the 2022 season support the quarterback, begrudgingly or not.

There also appears to be a dark web contingent of Titans fans who believe Tannehill’s failure is the reason that receiver A.J. Brown no longer wanted to play in Nashville.

Those individuals are too simple-minded to still be reading five graphs into an article, much less beyond the tweeted headline. Why even address such a small group of dullards by acknowledging their existence, you ask?

You can’t fix stupid, as the great American philosopher Ronald Dee White said, but you can sure as hell publicly shame it.

Tannehill has only one obligation to Tennessee

Win the f–king Super Bowl and play well enough for rookie Malik Willis to develop. That’s the job.

It is in his best interest to do. Given the development that needs to take place, it would also hugely benefit Willis.

Whether Tannehill is capable of that or not is an entirely different matter. The quarterback admitted himself that he needs to playing his best football for the Titans in January. Absolutely no one will dispute that point.

When asked about Tennessee drafting Willis in the third round out of Liberty last week, Tannehill acknowledged that he had not been informed and said that management did what they think is in the best interest of the football team. It was the second part of that answer that threw chum into the QB controversy waters.

Nov 6, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks to pass the ball against the Mississippi Rebels during the second quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s part of being in a quarterback room in the same room,” Tannehill said of his potential replacement. “We’re competing against each other, we’re watching the same trip, we’re doing the same drills. I don’t think it’s my job to mentor him. If he learns from me along the way, then that’s a great thing.”

How dare he! No athlete in the history of professional sport has ever spoken to a similar sentiment, publicly undermined the person brought in to replace them or actively stayed aloof from them.

The headline will hover over Tannehill, for sure. Those fretting about it lack a fundamental understanding of how competitive work places operate or don’t exist in one themselves. It would be lovely if every person in every professional setting helped foster an environment of growth and support for the younger, more cost-effective option. Tannehill said nothing of mistreating the rookie or leaving him out in the cold.

Exceptions to the ultra-competitive relationship between quarterback and back-up exist, of course. Patrick Mahomes gushed about Alex Smith’s impact while the former MVP sat in-waiting for a season. Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner welcomed any young passer to seek him out for mentorship if they were not receiving it.

There are plenty of instances one could cite on both sides of the argument. One situation does not need to dictate another. Tannehill may handle the situation as he likes as long as he remains the Titans starter.

The most unfortunate part of Tuesday’s press conference was that a rare moment of transparency from Tannehill was swallowed whole by MentorGate. His public discussion about the dark place he went to mentally after the postseason debacle was thrown by the wayside. His genuine shock and disappointment to learn of Tennessee trading away Brown is more that we’ve gotten on most days.

None of that matters if the Titans fail to make the playoffs this season or Tannehill’s production underwhelms. Just think of how refreshing it would be, though, if sports discourse strayed from the predicable and most disappointing lowest common denominator drivel.

How much Tannehill mentors or doesn’t remains to be seen. The mission to civilize, however, will continue.

Featured Image: USA TODAY Sports.