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Titans’ Ryan Tannehill clarifies comments about Malik Willis, vows to be ‘great teammate’ to rookie QB

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Ryan Tannehill took plenty of heat for his comments on Malik Willis, with the one line of “it’s not my job to mentor him” blowing up on social media over the past few weeks. Even though there was more context to Tannehill’s reaction toward the Tennessee Titans drafting Willis, Tannehill regretted how the comments were blown out of proportion.

“I meant no disrespect to Malik or anything close to that,” Tannehill said at Titans’ OTAs on Tuesday. “We’ve been in constant communication since he was drafted. … He’s a good person, he’s a talented player, he’s coming off a great college career, so we’re happy to have him in the room.”

“I’m really disappointed in how things got spun and twisted a little bit. I pride myself on being a great teammate. … It’s been something that’s been important to me from the beginning and will always be important to me. It’s something I’ll try to instill in my kids as they start playing youth sports as being a great teammate. When I say that, I mean trying to help out whether it’s on the field, off the field, supporting each other, and just building those relationships.”

Tannehill had the backing of Willis and head coach of Mike Vrabel in the days following his comments. Neither were bothered by anything Tannehill said, and they supported how strong of a teammate he was. 


Whether Willis is the long-term successor to Tannehill will be answered over time. Tannehill finished 11th in the league in completion percentage (67.2%), 20th in touchdown rate (4.0%), 19th in yards per attempt (7.0), and 20th in quarterback rating (89.6) last season, as his numbers were down from the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also has a $38.6 million cap hit in 2022, the largest of any player in the league.

That won’t stop Tannehill from his leadership role on the Titans, though. He wants to win football games, along with helping Willis become a better player along the way. 

“I compete every time I step foot on that football field,” Tannehill said. “That’s just how I’m wired. I love to compete. I love to win. I freaking hate losing. … I’m going to compete every time I have the chance to. 

“We’re going to continue to push each other, to learn from each other, encourage each other as this thing goes forward. We’re all here for one goal. My primary focus is to win football games, as with everyone in this building.” 

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