There's good reason why Tennessee Titans are still loving on Brett Kern so much | Estes

Gentry Estes
Nashville Tennessean

Far as I know, the Tennessee Titans aren’t planning a farewell parade through Metrocenter for the punter they cut Monday.

But it’s early yet. 

For Brett Kern, the Titans are seemingly doing everything besides keeping him on the roster. Few NFL players have been so hoisted on a team’s shoulders while being escorted out the door. General manager Jon Robinson rarely – if ever – pays tribute publicly after cutting a player. He sent out a statement to the media about Kern, though, saying that he “embodies everything we look for in players.”

As of Wednesday, the Titans’ Twitter account had published three separate tweets in honor of Kern – not to mention a pair of retweets.

Again, you wouldn’t normally see that for a released player, even one as accomplished and as much of a Titans institution as Kern has been this past decade.

Can’t say Kern hasn’t earned his kudos. They’ve just been laid on pretty thick by the Titans themselves, especially while a bunch of their other players were getting cut quietly as little more than names on a transactions list.

If the Titans still adored Kern to this extent, why not keep him? Here’s why: Undrafted rookie Ryan Stonehouse was outstanding this preseason, yes, but Stonehouse is also 13 years younger and a lot cheaper than Kern. No secret that’s how the NFL works.

That part of the business is widely known and understood.

But what Kern’s father explained Wednesday morning to a radio station near Buffalo, I’m not sure we were supposed to hear that part.

If it seems like the Titans have been trying exceptionally hard to stay in Kern’s good graces, it’s because they have been. They've had good reason. In a sense, the Titans continued to recruit Kern – not to play for them necessarily, but not to play for anyone else like, say, the Buffalo Bills or Indianapolis Colts.

That’s according to an appearance by Cal Kern on WLVL in Niagara County, New York, during which he broke the news to local fans that his son wouldn’t be returning to punt for his hometown Bills.

"He would actually lose money by playing up here – or anywhere else,” Cal Kern told the radio station.

Kern’s father told WLVL that the Titans had compensated Brett to stay in Tennessee, sending him home with 16 footballs to work out on his own and be ready “in case this thing doesn't work out with this young punter.”

Can’t imagine Stonehouse appreciates such confidence from his new team.

But otherwise, hey, I can’t knock this one from Robinson. It sounds brilliant, honestly.

While I don’t know the financial particulars, it sounds like it’d essentially give the Titans an extra player. If they are able to keep a punter of Kern’s caliber away from the rest of the NFL – yet then as soon as they need him, he’d be at the facility – that's a pretty crafty bit of management.

They’d call that having your cake and eating it, too. For the Titans. And also for Kern. How’d you like to make more by not working and staying home with your kids?

Now, things can change. Maybe some needy franchise breaks out the checkbook and scribbles a number that'd cause Kern to pack his bags and footballs anyway.

But his father’s comments were doubtful. “He doesn't want to break up his family for five months,” Cal Kern told WLVL.

Hours later, Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters when asked at his press conference that he couldn’t thank Kern enough “for his professionalism."

The coach then added: “I know that I'm going to have a good relationship with Brett moving forward."

It would appear so.

Reach Tennessean sports columnist Gentry Estes at gestes@tennessean.com and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes.