All locked up
By Brock Huard
I am sitting in my hotel room in Bristol, Conn. and I have a bevy of emotions running through me right now. It is somewhat strange as we have spent so much time talking about Jake Locker that I have almost tired of all the conversation. Yet, when Jake Locker became a Tennessee Titan this evening, a weird wave of emotions ran through me.
I didn’t go all Jon Gruden, hooting and hollering. I didn’t pump my fist in the air or pound my chest. I simply smiled and said aloud, “Good for you, Jake.” After five years of broken ribs, a broken thumb, concussions, a thigh bruise, bruised shoulders and bruised confidence, you were the eighth overall pick in the NFL draft. You went higher than anyone guessed, and all the talk of millions of dollars down the drain can now stop.
In many respects, I wish Jake would have gone No. 10 to Jacksonville. I have a lot of concern about the Titans’ system and an offensive coordinator that failed to develop Tim Couch and David Carr. The Titans have lost head coach Jeff Fisher and have a first-time head coach in Mike Munchak. Wide receiver Kenny Britt has been a mess off the field, and I don’t know who Jake will throw to. Most concerning, unlike Jacksonville at No. 10 with David Garrard, Tennessee has no quarterback in place to mentor, teach and allow Jake the time to grow and develop appropriately.
Tonight, though, is not the night to fret over the future of Jake Locker. Tonight is a night to celebrate the local kid realizing his dreams and capping a wild, five-year journey in style. Frankly, it is really refreshing to see a selfless, humble athlete rewarded in the end. Amidst all the adversity of last season, Jake never wavered. When his Heisman dreams fell apart and the losses mounted, Jake never whined, complained or made excuses. When we pointed to his accuracy issues and inconsistent play, he never backed down or talked about a porous offensive line and dropped passes. When his record as a starting quarterback of 15-25 was questioned, Jake owned it and took full responsibility for it.
In the end, I think that is why he went No. 8. Not because of the spirals, pro day, 4.5 40 or high ceiling, but because in a me-first day and age, Jake is a throwback to the team-first day and age. It won’t be pretty right away, and if Jake is thrown in the fire as a rookie, there probably won’t be a lot of wins in Year 1. But unlike his predecessor in Nashville, the Titans know Jake won’t throw his pads in the stands and turn his back on his coach. They know he has been battle-tested and beaten up, and yet he endured. They know if it doesn’t start well, Jake’s got the persistence and courage to make it end well.
Good for you, Jake.