‘One of the Greatest Men I’ve Ever Met’ – Brian Callahan Chokes Up Thanking Bengals at Titans News Conference

Former Bengals OC Brian Callahan couldn't hide how special his time was in Cincinnati as he got emotional when introduced as the head coach in Tennessee.

CINCINNATI — Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan had been at the podium for barely 30 seconds during his introductory press conference as Tennessee Titans head coach when the emotions surfaced.

“This is going to be more difficult than I thought,” Callahan said, his eyes already welling with tears.

It got harder.

Emotions Overwhelm Former Bengals OC Brian Callahan

What sparked the wet eyes and quivering voice was his declaration that he wanted to thank the people who helped him along the way. Whether he lost his train of thought or intentionally pivoted to try to regain his composure, Callahan opened instead about how grateful he was for the honor of being a head coach as he began thanking those in the Titans organization who were part of the process.

After citing a quote from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp about team building, Callahan tried again to express his gratitude to the members of the Bengals organization.

He made it through one sentence before his emotions accelerated from a trickle to a tsunami.

“I would like to thank the Cincinnati Bengals organization. Mike Brown, who is probably one of the greatest men that I’ve ever met …,” Callahan said before pausing to collect himself, standing in silence before the room for more than 10 seconds.

“I’ll get it together in a second, don’t worry,” he said before picking up mentions of the rest of the front office.

“Katie and Troy Blackburn, their daughters, Elizabeth and Caroline, and Duke Tobin and his staff, they gave me an incredible opportunity to grow, and then they were patient, and they invested in me,” Callahan continued. “And I’ll forever be grateful for that.”

Another five-second pause.

“You can see how much these people mean to me,” Callahan said, his voice now shaking.

He promised again to get it together, and he did.

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“Probably most importantly, Zac Taylor,” Callahan said. “He’s a great friend. He’s been an incredible mentor, and he’s a fantastic football coach. Thank you for everything.”

It’s been more than 20 years since Dick Vermeil started making headlines for crying at press conferences. It’s just not something you see often, especially in football.

Not only was it refreshing to see a coach be so open and raw with his feelings, but it also emphasized what Taylor has preached about the importance of relationships and cultivating a culture that values them.

Callahan went on to thank his wife, children, parents, and in-laws, and there were more emotions, but they weren’t on the same level as the ones that escaped when talking about his football family in Cincinnati.

“I’m glad that’s over,” Callahan joked after finishing his thank yous.

But it wasn’t.

After the obligatory opening questions about the Will Levis and the Tennessee quarterback situation, a reporter asked Callahan what his first conversation was like with his father, Bill, after signing a five-year contract to follow in his footsteps as an NFL head coach.

“It was cool,” Callahan said. “I asked him how many fathers and sons have been head coaches in the NFL. I don’t think it’s been many. I think that’s a pretty prideful thing for him and me to be associated with.

“You live this lifestyle and there’s a lot of ups and downs and adversity that comes your way,” he continued. “Just the fact that I’m able to stand up here and he’s been able to do the same, for me, that’s a huge honor. You want to be like your dad.”

It looked like Callahan might have to take another break after delivering that last line, but he composed himself quickly as a reporter fired off the next question.

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When questions arose about his father, currently the offensive line coach for the Cleveland Browns, joining him on his staff in Tennessee, it was obvious Callahan was prepared.

“He’s under contract. There’s nothing I can say to that either way,” he said.

Much of Callahan’s 40 minutes at the podium were spent talking about his vision for the future of the Titans. But now and then, something would relate to his time in Cincinnati, whether it be the people he worked with, how he handled certain situations or things he learned.

The further he gets into his career as a head coach, the less emotional he will be when discussing his five years with the Bengals.

At some point in the 2024 season, the Bengals are going to play the Titans in Nashville, and there is no doubt there will be more questions about his time in Cincinnati leading up to the game.

Taylor mentioned it during the press conference to announce Dan Pitcher as Callahan’s replacement about three hours before Callahan stepped to the podium in Tennessee.

“I hate that we play him next year. I kind of like that we play him next year,” Taylor said, further illustrating the conflicting emotions of seeing a good friend leave to achieve a dream.

“He has waited a long time for the opportunity and prepared a long time for the opportunity,” Taylor added. “The right place came calling for him, and I’m really happy. We’ll hear more of what he says in his press conference.”

But it was the times when Callahan couldn’t say anything that spoke loudest about his time in Cincinnati.

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