NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mike Munchak isn't obligated to surf the web.
He can wear a blindfold and earplugs with regard to what's written and said about the Tennessee Titans. (This week, actually, that's probably a pretty good idea.)
What I and my media colleagues say can be completely unimportant to him.
What his players say to us, however, is not unimportant and it's stuff a coach should know.
Munchak doesn't have to sift through it all. He's got a PR department that can give him one page a day that highlights the important stuff or that can talk him through the important points.
Sunday he had two key players revisiting a theme that's been struck before. That there are guys in the way who need to move. Tight end Delanie Walker told me, "We've got to find that cancer because it's slowing us down.”
Maybe there is a cancer. Maybe Walker sees something that's not really there. Maybe he's a frustrated guy just talking angrily after a terrible loss.
It's not a federal issue that he said it.
But it shouldn't be a surprise to his coach to hear about it in a press session at 4 p.m. the next day.
Here's Munchak's exchange on this from Monday:
Question: There've been some guys in the locker room after a couple of games, most of them yesterday talking about how they felt like there were maybe problems in the locker room. One of them used the word cancer and said maybe some guys need to be weeded out, if they don't want to be here maybe they need to turn their uniforms in, do you sense that you've got a problem with some players?
Answer: Nah. No. I don't. No, I don't see that. I haven't heard. No.
Question: If guys have those questions about cancer in the locker room and guys who don't want to be here, should you not have heard?
Munchak: If there is a guy that feels that way, yeah, I think I would have heard. I don't know what you mean by a cancer or what your definition is.
Question: Delanie said, "We've got to find the cancer in here and get rid of it." Bernard said several times there are guys here who are holding us back, we need to get rid of them, they need to go to Ruston [Webster] and Mike and turn in their jerseys.
Munchak: Well I don't know. Like I said, I haven't heard anything about that. That's two guys I talk to all the time, they haven't mentioned that to me. So I'll be sure to ask them about it.
Is it a Belichickian dodge that gets Munchak away from a follow-up about who the cancer is? I'm not sure Munchak is that shrewd or savvy in this circumstance.
Wouldn't it be better if he said something like: “I heard that, I don't agree with it, I plan to talk with those guys about that. I suspect it's frustrated players talking after a frustrated loss more than anything.”
Maybe I am being over critical and parsing things too much; I'll certainly allow for that. But I can't help but find that exchange symbolic of Munchak as a coach.
He's not concerned with broad oversight of things that aren't technically “coaching,” certainly not in a public way that says, “I've got a handle on everything going on here.”
He can't not know on Monday that players were saying those things on Sunday. If he did know about them, it wouldn't have made sense for him to say he was unaware.
Munchak determined before his third season that if he was going to go down, he'd go down his way.
Perhaps I should have come to terms with it already. I've known him a long time and I'm still amazed that “his way” includes being intentionally tone deaf on certain matters that fall under his purview.