NASHVILLE – Sporting a light blue tie, his children all decked out in matching blue and white Js, new Titans general manager Ran Carthon showed up at his introductory press conference on Friday and tackled a historic day with ease.
With Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, head coach Mike Vrabel, and Carthon's family and friends in attendance, the long-time NFL executive talked about his road to Tennessee.
Carthon said "I didn't get here alone." He went on to thank those who've made an impact on his life, and helped him reach his "dream job." He also thanked the Titans for the opportunity.
There were plenty of questions Carthon couldn't answer, of course. On a few occasions, he reminded those in the crowd he just got to town.
But Carthon made it clear he's ready to do his part to help the Titans win, while working alongside Vrabel.
"Mike Vrabel is at the top of my to-do list," Carthon said. "Us working together and forging a relationship and coming up with a plan on how to build this roster. There are a multitude of things we need to do, that we need to fix, to make this organization better, but my No.1 priority is spending more time with Mike Vrabel and learning the systems that are here in place and how I can help improve upon them, which will help us building a championship team."
If all goes well, Carthon said there will be great success in Tennessee.
"We'll be hoisting trophies and having parades," he said with a smile. "It's going to be a grind. It's going to be a process. … Although I feel the team is competitive now and we're good, the objective not to be good, the objective is to be great. So, we are going to continue to work to build a great roster, and that is going to be every year. You can always take it to a new height, so that's going to be our approach."
Some of the biggest highlights from today's presser:
-Amy Adams Strunk began the press conference discussing the hiring process, thanking and complimenting in-house candidates Ryan Cowden and Monti Ossenfort, who has since been hired as GM of the Cardinals. Strunk made it clear Carthon became the team's best choice. "In the end, Ran stood out," Strunk said. "What impressed me the most was his growth mindset, clear vision, and ability to connect with people." Strunk said the team got feedback around the league and left feeling "Ran is exceptional." "He's a natural leader and collaborator," Strunk said. "I am excited for Ran and his staff to work closely with coach Vrabel and the coaches to align on a vision for the team, and to build a roster of players who best fit that vision. Together they will identify talented players, and ultimately the right players to build a championship roster."
-Vrabel welcomed Carthon and his family, and he said he's looking forward to working with the former 49ers director of player personnel. "We have a lot of work to do," Vrabel said. "We are excited to get to work on that. … I am excited to get to work him. Welcome, on behalf of the coaching staff, the players, everyone that you will meet here in the next couple of weeks." "This is your day," Vrabel said, looking at Carthon. "You've earned it."
-Carthon said he told his wife, Heaven, back in 2003 he wanted to be a GM of an NFL team one day. "She later told me she almost stopped dating me because she never met somebody that lived in la-la land," Carthon said with a smile. Carthon then looked at his wife, sitting in the front row, and said, "Honey, today, that dream comes true." Carthon later credited his wife for picking out his tie – and the Js for the kids – for the trip to Tennessee.
-Carthon said he met Vrabel in person for the first time on Tuesday. "I've always respected him," Carthon said. "(When we met) we had a level of conversation that could have went (for) hours." Carthon said. "Our ground base of football, it comes from a similar place. … I am looking forward to working with him in building this team." Carthon said his job, and the job of the team's scouting staff, is to execute "Mike and his coaching staff's vision." Carthon said: "I can be the greatest talent evaluator of all time, but if I can't bring Mike the players that he needs to fit his system, then it is not going to work." "We are not here to collect talent," Carthon said. "We are here to build a team."
-Carthon said he met with Cowden, the team's Vice President of Player Personnel, early Friday morning, along with the scouting college department as well. "My plan isn't to come in here and flip everything over right now," Carthon said. "I think that would be extremely selfish." Carthon said his job is to learn the system in place.
-Carthon was asked if Ryan Tannehill will be the team's quarterback moving forward. Carthon said it's not fair for him to answer that question, since he's still evaluating the roster and more conversations need to be had, and more evaluations need to be done. "Mike and I will confer and figure it out," he said.
-Carthon became the franchise's first minority GM. "It is very significant," he said. "I understand I am standing on the shoulder of giants and there have been plenty of men that have come before that have laid this foundation that allowed me to be in this spot. It is paramount in my mind to do the work, and to be successful to leave the door open for other young black men that are coming behind me. Because there are a lot of talented young black men that can do the job, they just need the opportunity."
-Carthon said the 49ers used analytics a lot. "I think it definitely plays a part," Carthon said. "We trust our eyes as scouts, but sometimes the data can drive you to a decision and help you see things from a different vantage point. So, I think there's a place in our game for it. … We're going to use every tool here to help us build a championship roster."
-Carthon said he talked to Vrabel about the number of injuries the Titans have endured over the past two seasons, and "we're going to explore every option to figure out how to keep our guys on the field. … It's a violent spot, and there's not going to be a way to keep everybody healthy. It's just not possible. But we're going to explore every option to figure out how we're going to be able to maximize keeping guys on the field."
-Asked who has final say on the roster, Carthon said: "I don't think that matters, because the word, and what we truly believe here, is collaborating. I think all of that comes down to is a matter of ego. Mike and I are here to work together, and we are going to bring the people in here that we see fit. We are not going to see it the same way every time, but he and I will have the mutual respect to be able to work through that and get the right people in here."
-Carthon said his first interview was last Friday. He did the interview and then flew back California for the 49ers playoff game on Saturday. He then flew back to Nashville on Monday to interview for a second time with the team. On Tuesday evening, he was sitting in the Nashville airport when he got the call from Strunk informing him he was getting the job with the Titans. Carthon flew back to California on Tuesday night, got a few things in the 49ers offices on Wednesday, before flying back to Nashville on Thursday. "It's been a whirlwind," he said. "I don't think I've been able to fully process it. But it's been great. This is what I've always dreamed of, so I am just embracing it all."