NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A dejected Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota addressed reporters on Monday, one day after the team's season-ending loss to the Colts.
Mariota talked about his disappointment in missing the season finale, and the decision for him not to play.
"Very disappointed," Mariota said. "You work your life to be able to sacrifice and give to your team, and unfortunately I wasn't able to do that. I have to focus on getting healthy, and getting ready for the next one."
Mariota was ruled out of the contest because of neck and foot injuries. Mariota said he's been told he won't need surgery, just time to heal and get healthy.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel said the decision to keep Mariota sidelined was made by a group of people, and Mariota said that's true. Concerns about a nerve injury – and how it could impact his future – played a role, Mariota said.
"What it came down to is: When you have an opportunity to play a game that you love, and someone tells you you shouldn't, that's one of the hardest things any athlete has to go through," Mariota said. "Unfortunately I had to deal with that.
"For what it's worth, I wasn't able to get to a point where I was ready to go. ... It sucks, it hurts, when you are not able to be out there with your guys -- It definitely takes a toll on you. I just wanted to be there for my guys, and unfortunately I wasn't able to do that."
Mariota received several opinions on the nerve condition that's lingered all season, including one from a top neck and spinal nerve doctor located in Los Angeles, which was recommended by the team.
"His recommendation ultimately was one of the factors that led to the decision (not to play)," Mariota said. "For what it's worth, you don't always agree with those decisions. I was not happy with it, but ultimately what happened is I was not able to be out there with the guys."
Mariota said he was told rest would allow time for the nerve to heal, and he'd eventually get back to 100 percent.
Because he'd suffered several nerve-related injuries during the course of the year, Mariota was told it left him more susceptible to a bigger injury.
Mariota dealt with the same doctor following injuries against the Colts in Week 11 and the Redskins in Week 16. Mariota initially suffered an elbow injury in the season opener against the Dolphins. His injuries vs. the Colts and Redskins were described as "stingers."
"When it came down to it, (doctors) felt that through time and through some rest, the nerve should calm down and further recover," Mariota said.
"I am very blessed that it is nothing surgically that I'll have to do. It is just going to have to take some time."
Mariota started 13 of the team's 16 games this season, and played in 14 of 16. He finished the year with 2,528 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He set the franchise record with a completion percentage of 68.9 %.
Mariota watched the game on the sideline, wearing a baseball cap.
"It is a privilege to play for these guys, and the amount of support in the locker room means the world to me," Mariota. "I'll do anything and everything for these guys, and unfortunately I wasn't able to do that with the pads on on Sunday. I did my best to support (them), and hopefully these guys, as we go forward, will continue to grow as a team.
"You just have to focus on that you can do day to day. It is hard sometimes, we live in a world where results and all these things matter. Just focus on what it takes day in and day out, and for me it is getting healthy. It is going to take some time, but I am willing to put in the work and when it comes down to it when we get back in here I'll be ready to go."
A day after their season-ending loss to the Colts, Titans players cleared out their lockers at Saint Thomas Sports Park, officially entering the 2019 offseason. (Photos: Gary Glenn)