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Floyd Reese, the general manager who built the Tennessee Titans team that made it all the way to the franchise's first and only Super Bowl, has died at 73, the Titans announced on Saturday.
"This is a sad day for our Titans family," Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. "I would like to send along my deepest condolences to Floyd's wife, Sally, to his children, grandchildren and extended family.
"Floyd spent over two decades with our franchise in a variety of roles — position coach, assistant general manager and ultimately, general manager – and he excelled at all of them. As general manager, he built a team that saw sustained success and helped guide our franchise in the toughest of times and the highest moments. His keen eye for talent led him to some of the best players in our team's history, which led the team to some of our greatest accomplishments. We look forward to remembering and honoring his legacy this season as he is formally inducted into our Ring of Honor."
ESPN 102.5 The Game, where Reese worked until late 2020, also made an announcement about his death. According to the station, Reese died of cancer, surrounded by his family.
Taking the Titans from worst to AFC champions
Reese spent 21 years as both a coach and executive of the Titans, starting back when they were the Houston Oilers, and would become one of the most influential figures in franchise history. His time with the team began in 1986 when he was named linebackers coach following seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. By 1990, Reese had been promoted to assistant general manager, and he was promoted to executive vice president and general manager in 1994.
The Oilers (they wouldn't be the Titans until 1999) went 2-14 in 1994 when Reese took over. Starting in 1995, he drafted a string of players that would end up playing a big role in the Titans' success a few years later. In 1995 he drafted quarterback Steve McNair, then Eddie George in 1996, wide receiver Derrick Mason the next year, Kevin Dyson in 1998, and then Jevon Kearse in 1999. All five of those players were vital to that 1999 team, which went 13-3, won the AFC championship, and made it to the Super Bowl. That team was led by Jeff Fisher, another Reese hire who would become the winningest coach in franchise history.
He also had an eye for drafting difference-making rookies, taking George at No. 14 in 1996, Kearse at No. 16 in 1999, and Vince Young at No. 3 in 2006. All three were voted Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year.
Reese resigned in 2006 with 111 wins, the most of any Oilers/Titans general manager in history. When he was told recently that he was being inducted into the Titans Ring of Honor, alongside his former head coach Jeff Fisher, he was extremely honored.
"The way Amy explained it, this is one of the highest, if not the highest honor, that we could bestow on somebody that's not in the NFL Hall of Fame," Reese said last month upon learning of his induction. "And so that kind of makes you realize that this is special. I know it is special too because there's been so much time and effort that we put in — not just me, but Jeff, and everybody involved, I mean, for years and years and years. To have this come true for me is a special treat."
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