UPDATE: Since this story was published earlier this afternoon, the Titans PR staff contacted the Buccaneers and will now in fact allow Mariota to be on the weekly conference call on Wednesday.
Each week the local Tampa Bay media requests a member of the opposing team they would like to speak to on a conference call. In the past, we have spoken to Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning and other top quarterbacks to get their perspective on the upcoming game.
With the Bucs set to host the Titans on Sunday, the request this week was, of course, you guessed it, Marcus Mariota. A no-brainer really.
But in the words of football analyst Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.”
The Titans informed the Bucs public relations staff on Monday that Mariota would not be made available. Say what? And the head scratching began.
While there is no rule that Mariota has to be made available for the weekly conference call with the Tampa Bay media on Wednesday, the Tennessee Titans have dropped the ball big time by not allowing the former Oregon Duck to speak about the season opening matchup against the Bucs.
For one of the few times in the history of the league, the team with No. 1 overall draft pick, will kick off the season facing the team with the No. 2 overall draft pick. Oh yeah, did we mention they are both quarterbacks?
Apparently that bit of historical significance means nothing to the Titans organization. It certainly wasn’t lost on the NFL who scheduled the game for Week 1.
Look, Mariota most likely isn’t going to say anything even remotely controversial. Scratch that. No chance at all he says anything controversial. But the fact remains this is a marquee Week 1 matchup, yet the quarterback of one of the two teams isn’t going to speak to the Tampa Bay media. What, are they afraid we are going to hurt his feelings or try and prod him into a heated exchange?
Will the Titans tell CBS – who will be broadcasting the game on Sunday to a good portion of the country – Mariota is off limits? And don’t even get me started on if this were the Bucs denying Winston to the Titans media. And yes, by the way, that is exactly who the Titans requested. And guess what? It will be Winston on the other end of the conference call Wednesday afternoon. Imagine the fallout nationally if the Bucs denied Winston to the Tennessee writers.
In the grand scheme of things, compared to war, famine and other worldwide tragedies, this ranks really, really low on the scale of importance. In all honestly, it doesn’t even rank. Still you have to wonder exactly what the Titans are trying to hide – or prove – by not allowing Mariota to speak to the Tampa Bay media.
Just another game I suppose the Titans are thinking. But I seriously doubt the NFL feels the same. So instead of the #blameJameis hashtag which has been popular with Seminoles and Bucs fans this year, I’m thinking #FreeMariota should be the one that trends the rest of the week. C’mon Tennessee, give us Mariota for five minutes. #FreeMariota!
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com