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Titans GM Jon Robinson holds back tears while talking about playoff loss

GMin' ain't easy.

In a high-stakes contest where fans, players, staff and ownership depend on their off-field decisions to translate to on-field success, only one NFL general manager out of 32 walks away from his team's final game satisfied with his work. The job's a relentless pressure cooker where critics drown out the plaudits and turnover is the norm.

Playoff loss still stings for Titans GM

For Tennessee Titans general manger Jon Robinson, the weight of that pressure stings. Robinson's Titans earned the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs last season only to lose at home to the eventual AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in their playoff opener. They lost by the slimmest of margins when a late Ryan Tannehill interception set up Cincinnati for a game-winning field goal as time expired.

But the margin for the teams involved doesn't matter, only the outcome. And Tennessee's season came to a crushing end that January Saturday. When asked on Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine what he could do better this offseason, Robinson had to hold back his tears before he could answer.

Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Jon Robinson was emotional when speaking about Tennessee's playoff loss. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

"That's what keeps me up at night," Robinson said before taking a lengthy pause as his emotions set in. ... "The trust that ownership has put in me, our fans and — I mean that stadium was rocking. And you can only imagine what it would have been like the next week. A pretty long list of stuff that I've gotta be better at."

It's rare to see that kind of emotion from a player in the immediate aftermath of an emotional loss. For an executive six weeks after the fact — it's unheard of. It's also entirely understandable.

It's impossible to do that job with any degree of success without being genuinely invested. Robinson's clearly invested. But probability dictates that he'll likely be processing the same kind of disappointment this time next year. It's just part of the job for 31 general managers every offseason.