Sale of 1/3 of Titans doesn’t solve lingering control issues

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

With one of the three branches of the Bud Adams family tree selling its interest in the Tennessee Titans, some will assume that the move will solve the league’s lingering concerns regarding the ownership of the team.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, it won’t. As the source said, a sale could actually make things worse.

The problem continues to be the decision of the team’s founder to bequeath the franchise in three equal shares, one going to each of his children’s families, but the failure of the late Bud Adams to give control of the team to any one slice of the three-piece pie. That has resulted in a lingering impasse among the three Adams families, with no two branches willing to sacrifice control of the team to the other.

The decision to sell by Susie Adams Smith (and her husband, Tommy, who at one point after the death of Bud Adams was running the team) is being interpreted as a move of exasperation with the inability of the three branches to determine which branch will have clear control. So now the other two branches, with Amy Adams Strunk controlling one and Susan Lewis and her two sons, Kenneth Adams IV and Barclay Adams, controlling the other, may end up in the exact same posture with a stranger to the family ultimately joining the organization and arguing that he/she should run the show.

Although the Titans consistently have downplayed the situation, that’s the lingering problem. The team has been divided into three chunks that are held separately and equally, with no one chunk having more or less authority than the other.

The league wants one of those chunks to have clear, irreversible control. It’s believed the Titans would like Amy Adam Strunk to control the team until such time as control would pass to Kenneth Adams IV. But league rules don’t allow control to slide from chunk to chunk of franchise ownership.

To solve the problem, Amy Adams Strunk (pictured) could sell all or part of her slice to the other branch of the family, or that branch could sell to her. Or either of them could buy out Susie Adams Smith. Possibly, no one branch of the family tree has the capital to pull that off.

So with no owner of 1/3 of the team buying out any other of 1/3 of the team, and with Susie Adams Strunk now willing to introduce into the mix someone who may not display the same patience and cooperation that the family members have displayed among themselves over the past few years, the NFL may finally begin to push the Titans aggressively to get this matter solved, once and for all.

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