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New Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees: 'I kept missing the game more and more'

Sports columnist Mike Preston talked with former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees about accepting the same position with the Tennessee Titans after retiring from the Ravens.

Nearly two weeks after retiring, former defensive coordinator Dean Pees was still hanging around his office at the Ravens’ team facility in Owings Mills.

He was trying not to be a pest to his replacement, Don “Wink” Martindale, but Pees was already missing the game.

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Pees, though, is back in the NFL again. The 68-year-old officially agreed to become the Tennessee Titans’ new defensive coordinator Monday, replacing Dick LeBeau, one of the game’s greatest defensive coaches.

Pees was on his way to Nashville on Tuesday but decided to make his first public comments about what transpired over the weekend while running through an airport.

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“One week after I retired I had gotten an offer to coach and I turned it down,” said Pees, who was with the Ravens for eight years, the last six as coordinator. “I had already spoken with the officials at Medicare, talked with the NFL about my pension and had planned the move. We were ready to move our stuff to our retirement home in Michigan.

“Then I got a call from [first year Tennessee head coach] Mike Vrabel and he kept calling and calling. When I was sitting in the office, I kept missing the game more and more. It got to the point where I finally knew I missed it and told him ‘Yes, I’d do it.’ ”

According to Pees, he would not have taken the job if it wasn’t with Vrabel. He had built a strong relationship over five years with Vrabel when Vrabel was a starting linebacker for the New England Patriots.

Pees said that even though he missed the game during his brief retirement, he looked forward to spending time with his wife, Melody, six children and 10 grandchildren.

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But after 45 years in the league, he isn’t finished.

“Those were great years in Baltimore and with John Harbaugh,” Pees said. “We had a unique relationship because I had coached John and it was great to turn around and work for him. It’s the same thing with Mike. I coached him the whole time when he was in New England and now get the same privilege.

“I was sitting there thinking, the frozen tundra in Michigan or Nashville, the tundra or Nashville, and I chose Nashville. I’ll never forget those eight great years in Baltimore and there were a lot of great memories, except for two plays. I won’t forget that interception in the Super Bowl, but I won’t forget those two plays in the last two seasons, either. ”

Former Ravens defensive coordinator reunites with Mike Vrabel in Tennessee and gets opportunity to work with his son, Matt.

Pees said he didn’t think the Titans would fire previous head coach Mike Mularkey especially after he won an AFC wild card playoff game against Kansas City. But the Titans were handled easily by the Patriots in the divisional round.

The Titans were ranked No. 13 in yards (328) and No. 17 in points (22.3) allowed per game last season, and LeBeau was one of the first coaches to be fired by Vrabel. In Pees’ six seasons as the coordinator in Baltimore, the Ravens finished in the top 10 in defense three times and won a Super Bowl.

Soon after Pees accepted the job he asked Vrabel whether all the coaching positions were filled and Vrabel told him that there were some entry-level openings. Pees’ son, Matt, 37, a head coach at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood Colo., was hired as a quality control assistant.

“I had already taken the job before Matt was hired and would have done so without them hiring him,” Pees said. “But this is the right situation at the right time. I get to coach with my son and how many people get to work with their children in the same profession? He has a wife and child, has worked hard and this is a great opportunity for him.

“And just think, I really was done. This opportunity just came across at the right time.”

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