Steve Underwood, the team president and CEO who followed the franchise from Houston to Nashville, is stepping down, the team announced Friday. He will remain in the organization as a special counselor to controlling owner .
, in his fifth season with the team, is being elevated to fill Underwood’s role. Nihill was promoted to senior vice president/business operations and chief legal officer in February.
“I just thought that his was a good time. Amy and I both thought that this was a good time to make a transition,” Underwood told The Tennessean on Friday. “I’ll be 69 in October, and at some point, we need to pass the torch to the next generation.
“Burke will do an outstanding job as president. He has the kind of character and integrity to make that work.”
Underwood was hired by Strunk’s father, the late Bud Adams, to work for the franchise in 1991. He retired in 2011 but re-joined the franchise in 2015.
In a release, Strunk said, “Steve’s remarkable 40-year Oilers/Titans career places him among the titans of professional sports executives. His dedication to our franchise is unmatched and I am glad he will remain with us as a Senior Counselor.”
Nihill, 41, was responsible for the organization’s legal, human resources and government relations functions. Following his February promotion, he began overseeing stadium and facility operations.
He joined the Titans in 2016, bringing with him 15 years of experience as an attorney and strategic business counselor with companies ranging from technology startups to Fortune 500 businesses.
Nihill played an important role in securing and executing the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville. He’s overseeing the renovation and expansion of
“I am exceedingly grateful for and humbled by this opportunity,” Nihill said in a release. “I am inspired by Amy’s vision for our franchise and look forward to collaborating with my talented colleagues to serve our fans, partners and communities. From the NFL Draft on Broadway to a magical run to the AFC Championship, last year was a special season for Titans fans, but as an organization we believe the best is yet to come.
“I also want to offer my congratulations to Steve Underwood on his retirement. Steve has been an extraordinarily generous mentor and friend to me, and I’m thankful that we will continue to benefit from Steve’s experience and wisdom in his role as Senior Counselor.”
Underwood informed Strunk that he was ready to step away from a full-time role, and the best choice for his replacement was clear, Strunk said.
“Since starting with the club as the General Counsel, Burke has continued to take on additional responsibilities to the point that he has become an invaluable resource and an absolute superstar for our organization,” Strunk said in a release. “I have great confidence in him and his leadership, and I know that the future is bright for the team.”
Underwood will have an opportunity to spend more time with his wife, Frances, and his family.
“Finding the right time is never easy,” Underwood said, “but we just finished the most successful season we had in 20 years. Amy has restored her family’s legacy in the sports world and we just have so many good people that are at high levels in our organization that it’s a great time to make a change. If we didn’t have the same type of leadership behind us that we’ve had, I might feel differently about it. But the next generation of our leadership is going to do a tremendous job.”
Underwood said the hardest part about stepping down is not having the day-to-day contact with Strunk, with whom he had a relationship that “will be difficult to replace.”
“She (Strunk) and her family have done so much for my family,” Underwood said.
“To leave what’s been a lifelong endeavor in good standing, it’s a status few obtain in our business,” Underwood said in a release. “I’ve loved so many things about it, from the people to the variety of the work. I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and the experiences I’ve had. I’m not sure what more I could have asked for.”