Nepotism is when an elected official gives a high paying job to a family member over a more qualified candidate or a high level NFL position coach gives the starting center job to their son over better players. After the jump will be a quick examination on whether this is happening right now in Tennessee.
When Mike Munchak was given the head coaching job last year one of the first things he did was hire Bruce Matthews away from the Texans to become the offensive line coach of the Titans. It seemed like a great fit: a hall of fame offensive lineman becoming the offensive line coach for the franchise he played his entire career for and after a year it is hard to make an argument that he failed to get good production out of the starting players he (and Munchak) inherited from the Fisher administration. But 2012 is the year of discontent for the center position so things are about to get interesting.
Bruce joined his son Kevin who was signed as an undrafted free agent from Texas A&M after the 2010 draft so he had no involvement as a team official in his son's hiring. Fisher is that kind of guy. He hires his friend's sons (Matthews) and his son's friends (Mariani) and doesn't think twice about it. Munchak has a more reserved personality. He will likely show hesitation in starting a player with family ties to the team especially a guy who he watched grow up and who his daughter still asks about.
The Titans are probably not going to start Eugene Amano this year. The front office has made it clear that they will bring in all available centers this off-season and would sign the first one that they feel is better than the current centers on the roster. That didn't happen so presumably they feel they have a center that is as at least as good as all those who visited. If it were Amano they wouldn't have brought anyone in to begin with. Amano is out 'til June with a knee injury, so, like many epic love affairs begin - the person who is physically available is the one who creeps steadily into the heart. "He was there for me. You weren't," she said to him as he loaded his belongings onto the U-Haul.
Kevin Matthews has been Lockering patiently for two years: playing off the bench when called but mostly ruminating in NFL juice. He played directly under his dad last year. The guy is smart, patient and has absorbed a tremendous amount of information on how to be a long-term starting player for an NFL team. He walked on at Texas A&M and sat until he got the starting job. His coaches and teammates lauded his patience, quiet demeanor, ability to take advice, and willingness to play injured. After his first start he did not give it up. Putting genetics aside (his father, grandfather, uncle, and two cousins are current or former NFL players) he looks by all accounts to be a person who proves himself by his attitude and actions and makes strong impressions on people by consistently improving himself and those around him.
The front office is being exceedingly careful to make it clear that the starting center job is open to all the current centers and they may very well genuinely feel that. But, there is a possibility that Matthews has the edge and they want to do everything they can to make it look clean. If he is given the starting job over the older, more experienced players as an undrafted free agent with basically no NFL playing experience there will most likely be cries of nepotism. There will be some awkward exchanges in the locker room and there will be a few weeks of increased pressure when the spotlight is aimed at the position. Then the Patriots come to town and the game actually begins. The outcome of the Titans' first 4 games (and arguably the most difficult stretch of the season) will determine a lot more than how the center position is viewed. All is forgiven in the sweet light of victory, even nepotism, and Matthews, after all, is the one who is here, now. At some point he will be given an opportunity to walk in his family's footsteps. One start is all he has ever needed. That is the point in the past when it has stopped being nepotism and become great genetics.