Floyd Reese was General Manager of the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans from 1994-2006. He worked for ESPN for a time after that, and then was part of Bill Belichick’s front office in New England from 2009-2014.
He’s living in Nashville, and Thursday he visited with The Wake Up Zone, which is co-hosted by one of Reese’s greatest finds: Frank Wycheck, the tight end who caught 482 passes for Houston and Tennessee with 27 touchdowns and was part of the famous TD late in the Music City Miracle.
Some highlights of the conversation:
On a power struggle with Jeff Fisher at the end of Reese’s tenure: He said if Fisher won power struggle he didn't know anything about it. Reese said Fisher was not big into the draft and just wanted to coach ball, which is accurate for sure.
But Reese was being politically correct there. As he left he clearly felt that he had lost and Fisher had won in some capacity.
On dealing with then-Jacksonville coach Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars on draft day in 1995: The Jaguars were picking second and the Oilers were third.
Coughlin called and said Reese needed to give him a third or he was going to trade it to Minnesota and the Vikings were going to take Steve McNair.
"I said (Tony) Boselli is right there, you want Boselli,'" Reese recalled. "I said, 'Why would you do that?' 'Well if you don’t give me a third, I’m going to do it.' So I put down the phone ... Bud (Adams) said we need to trade it so we don’t miss out on the kid. And I thought about it and I thought about it and I really don’t know what happened, but I picked the phone back up and said, 'Tom, we’re not going to do it, talk to you later, bye.' And 30 seconds later he takes Boselli and we erupt and end up with McNair and everything is cool.
"That night I am laying in bed and I’m thinking to myself, 'The owner just told me to trade and I didn’t do it.' Can you imagine if it worked out differently? My career would have been 30 seconds long."
Reese on draft clunkers: "You think about the bad ones probably more than the good ones."
Which one in particular?
Bryant Mix, a defensive tackle from Alcorn State, picked in the second round in 1996.
"You sit around with a group of guys and everybody in the room was in love with this guy," Reese said. "And I’ve never seen him make a play. I just don’t see it. Now big, good-looking guy. Strong. And I said, 'OK, we’ll do it.' It’s my fault, I understand that. But that one bothered me more because I just couldn’t fall in love with the kid."
Glenn Cumbee, the team’s director of college scouting, later told a couple of us that the Mix pick was his fault, that he simply missed on the player.
On Adams’ involvement in the choice of Vince Young third overall in 2006: "Bud made it very clear who he wanted," Reese said. "And Bud didn’t do that very often. I think Jeff and I both realized what Bud wanted. Bud called me the night before the draft and said, 'You’ve got to call New Orleans and trade up because I understand that Al Davis is going to trade in there to take Vince.' I said, 'What?' We were third and he wanted us to trade up to second.
And I said 'You know, I really don’t want to' and he said 'Yeah, you need to do that.' So I called them and I said, trading one spot, 'I need to trade with you guys and I will give you a two.' They said, 'A two?' I said , 'Yep, a two.' They said, 'Why?' I said, 'We want that spot.' He said, 'you know something we don’t and we're not going to trade.' I laughed about that forever."
The loss that haunts him more between Super Bowl XXXIV and the 2000 playoff dud against Baltimore the following year: "It’s one of those 'do you want to drown in the Atlantic or the Pacific?' "
"I think the Ravens the next year probably hurt me the most, because we had the best team in the league," he said.
On quarterback development: "We destroy a lot more QBs than we create."
On the trend to young head coaches: "Young head coaches with limited experience come into the league and many have no chance. If you measure them against Bill Belichick, who worked in all sort of different roles before he became a head coach and has had great success, most have no chance," Reese said.
On the Titans now: "I really like Ken (Whisenhunt), I really like Ruston (Webster), he said. "... Tommy Smith knows what he's doing. I have nothing but hope."