New England Patriots

Did Mike Vrabel's Patriots HOF speech play a role in Titans firing?

"I want you not to take this organization for granted."

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Mike Vrabel's quick trip to New England this past fall seemed innocent enough. But apparently his boss thought differently.

One day after the Tennessee Titans' surprise firing of their head coach, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport offered some interesting insight into what led Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk to move on from Vrabel, who is just two years removed from winning NFL Coach of the Year.

"This was Amy Adams Strunk making the decision based on a lot of things," Rapoport said. "Including what happened when he went to New England for the Hall of Fame thing. Including not dispelling rumors in-house that he was going to be the Patriots coach."

What is the "Hall of Fame thing," you ask? With his Titans on a bye over the weekend of Oct. 22, Vrabel traveled to Foxboro to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, a fitting honor for a former linebacker who played a key role in three New England Super Bowl victories from 2001 to 2008.

At halftime of the Patriots' game against the Buffalo Bills, Vrabel made a speech to the Gillette Stadium crowd reminding them of how good they have it in New England, despite the team's 1-5 record at the time.

“I want you not to take this organization for granted,” Vrabel told the crowd. “I’ve been a lot of places. This is a special place with great leadership, great fans, great direction, great coaching. Enjoy it. It’s not like this everywhere.”

Vrabel's glowing comments did raise a few eyebrows considering he was the head coach of an AFC rival, and apparently Strunk caught wind of them as well. According to Rapoport, Vrabel also didn't actively shoot down rumors that he would pursue New England's head coach job if and when Bill Belichick moved on from the franchise.

Now that Vrabel is out in Tennessee and the expectation is the Patriots will move on from Belichick, there's been plenty of speculation that Vrabel indeed will succeed Belichick in Foxboro. According to our Tom E. Curran, however, the Patriots' current plan is to promote linebackers coach Jerod Mayo to head coach instead of hiring Vrabel.

Either way, Vrabel is now one of the most coveted head coach candidates -- in part due to comments he made at midfield of Gillette Stadium in October.

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