Steve Watterson's best stories: Players, pranks and DBs turning their backs on Nick Saban

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Spend 90 minutes with Steve Watterson, the former longtime Titans’ strength and conditioning coach, as Jonathan Hutton and I were fortunate enough to do on Friday’s edition of The Midday 180, and you’ll get stories of pranks and players, injuries and ownership and much more.Watterson

Right off the top, I was struck by how much he said he felt responsible for injuries during his time with the team. As I’ve said time and time again, which there are things a team can do to reduce injuries and things it can fail to do that might increase them, Mike Vrabel is entirely correct when he says the injury rate in the NFL is 100 percent. Luck is certainly also a huge factor.

“I would say all of it (is connected to me), that’s how I felt,” Watterson said. “Every time a guy got injured, it was a heart attack and I would stay late at night and call peers around the league and find out, ‘What are you doing, what’s different, how are you handling a situation?’

“Another time, believe me I’m not exonerating myself, I’m just giving you an example that sometimes the fans don’t see. Let’s take a look at the year (2017) that Marcus had a hamstring, (Corey) Davis had a hamstring and (Tajae) Sharpe had a hamstring issue, oh and DeMarco (Murray). One of the variables out of that is, that entire offseason, they didn’t work out with me one day. Davis came in with an injury, a foot injury. He was limited in what he could do in conditioning. If you remember DeMarco had toe surgery, hand surgery. [Unlocked]

"Marcus Mariota was coming off a knee injury and didn’t return until we were already into the (training camp) season. Tajae had knee surgery. So, there is an example. We had four significant soft tissue (injuries) but not one of them was able to get the volume of work in say April, May and June. And really by the time April comes when the players reported to me, I made it a fact to them that I made it very difficult workout for them because even that is not enough time. They’ve got to start working at the end of February.”

Other info you’ll find in the podcast of the conversation:

  • Details of a time Watterson fought hard to keep a recovering player, Kyle Vanden Bosch, out of the lineup and failed, only to see him worsen the injury.
  • Steve McNair was hardly a workout warrior, but the Titans worked with him to create programs that circumvented traditional weightlifting. Albert Haynesworth and LenDale didn’t like to lift either, but Waterson found ways to prompt them to get their work done.Midday180 Logo png
  • How playing weight can definitely play a role in injury prevention for Marcus Mariota.
  • Details of a failed Cortland Finnegan prank on Watterson, how Watterson “bugged” Floyd Reese’s office and how a successful prank by Jeff Fisher and former Titans’ coaches with the Rams worked on Watterson at Nissan Stadium.
  • How calling Bud Adams by his first name on their second meeting got him in trouble, but got a laugh out of Amy Adams Strunk.
  • What Nick Saban was like as an assistant coach on Jerry Glanville’s Houston Oilers staff.
  • Randy Moss giving him a shoutout in his Hall of Fame speech.
  • How being The Turk, who tells a player who’s being cut at the end of the preseason to go see the GM or coach, wore Watterson down.
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