Titans 'iffy' on George future
Commentary by Mark Howard
June 08, 2004

Forget the steak knives, coffee maker or the ever-popular place setting. All Eddie George wants for a wedding gift from the Titans is a deal he can live with.

The franchise’s all time leading rusher will make his first run down the aisle June 20 and before he exchanges vows with his betrothed, George wants to either say I do or I don't on a new contract.

Last week, the impasse that existed between George and Titans management reached critical mass. Owner Bud Adams, who lacks the shut-up chip in his head, essentially kissed off George, saying he felt No. 27’s days with the Titans were all but over.

After George and his agent Lamont Smith expressed their requisite public outrage, everybody did what they should have done all along: Shut up and start talking turkey.

Sure the rumors have been flying about the Ravens, Raiders, and Eagles having some interest if the Titans cut him, but George made it perfectly clear that this isn’t a bidding war. The four-time Pro Bowler has insisted all along he would take the necessary $2 million pay cut if the Titans gave him some reachable incentives. That means not getting his playing time slashed drastically.

George apparently got that assurance from Jeff Fisher, but not without a big “if.”

In this pull no punches, brutally honest face-to-face, Fisher told George that even with promising second-year man Chris Brown waiting in the wings, the starting job was still his to lose and he would still do the brunt of the ball carrying, but only if he remains productive.

One Titan, requesting to remain anonymous, mused, “It will be very interesting to see exactly what ‘if’ means?” After all, what if George still plods along at 3.3 yards per carry and Brown explodes onto the scene as a younger, faster and more explosive version of George? If Eddie gets off to what has become his customary slow start, will Fisher give him the hook?

There’s a lot at stake this season for George. He’s 991 yards shy of 11,000 for his career, which much like 500 home runs in baseball, means an automatic trip to the Hall of Fame. George has made it clear he’d prefer to do it in Titans colors.

All you need to know about George is his performance in last January’s Wild Card playoff game at Baltimore. When he had his shoulder popped back into joint on the sidelines of M&T Bank Stadium, it served as the Titans signature moment in their monster win over the hated Ravens.

Now the bottom line for all of this revolves around Eddie George’s implicit trust of his coach. Fisher has long been known to be a man of his word and George is banking on that. That’s why as he embarks on his honeymoon, George hopes that his professional marriage to the Titans continues to bloom for a ninth year.