Titans' Ryan Tannehill: 'I Meant No Disrespect' to Malik Willis With Mentor Comment

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2022

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 22: Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Tennessee Titans throws a second quarter pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Nissan Stadium on January 22, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill turned heads earlier this month when he told reporters, "I don't think it's my job to mentor him," when discussing rookie signal-caller Malik Willis.

The veteran clarified his previous comment Tuesday, telling reporters, "I meant no disrespect to Malik." He added he was "disappointed in how things got spun and twisted a little bit":

Jim Wyatt @jwyattsports

.<a href="https://twitter.com/Titans?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Titans</a> QB <a href="https://twitter.com/ryantannehill1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ryantannehill1</a> with a long, heartfelt comment about wanting to be a great teammate to <a href="https://twitter.com/malikwillis?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@malikwillis</a>. <br><br>Said he meant no disrespect to Malik and is disappointed with how things got twisted over his quote on mentoring. <br><br>๐ŸŽฅ <a href="https://t.co/4nhdlxSXhU">pic.twitter.com/4nhdlxSXhU</a>

Tannehill also said he reached out to Willis after his initial comment generated so many headlines and said he would be an ideal teammate.

For his part, Willis seemed to indicate he has a positive relationship with Tannehill as "somebody you can look up to":

CBS Sports @CBSSports

"Definitely somebody you can look up to."<br><br>-Malik Willis when asked about his relationship with Ryan Tannehill <br><br>(via <a href="https://twitter.com/PaulKuharskyNFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PaulKuharskyNFL</a>)<a href="https://t.co/sQfBz3sFVN">pic.twitter.com/sQfBz3sFVN</a>

Tannehill was right that his job description isn't to mentor someone who could take his job. That is especially true since he has a potential out on his contract for 2023 and may not be the long-term answer for the Titans considering he turns 34 years old in July.

Tannehill isn't Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers under center, but he helped lead the Titans to the No. 1 seed in the AFC last season even though star running back Derrick Henry played just eight games.

Yet Tennessee used a third-round pick on Willis, which brought some uncertainty to Tannehill's long-term future with the team.

The starter's comments about it not being his job to mentor his replacement brought the situation even more scrutiny months before the season is set to begin. It might be a topic of discussion if Tannehill makes a mistake or if Willis plays well during preseason games.

Willis can also make plays with his legs, so it wouldn't be surprising if the Titans utilized that skill set in certain situations much like the San Francisco 49ers did with Trey Lance last season.

For now, Tannehill made sure to clear up confusion about his comments, even if he may be fighting for his job at times this season.