Dean Pees says Mike Vrabel convinced him to come out of retirement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dean Pees is putting extended family time, planned Viking Cruise vacations with his wife and life without football on hold for the foreseeable future as he joins the Tennessee Titans as defensive coordinator. Wednesday, he addressed the many questions about why and how he came to his decision to end his retirement after just four weeks.

Pees, 68, spent the past eight seasons with the Ravens, including six as defensive coordinator, before retiring on Jan. 1 citing a desire to spend more time with his wife, six kids and 12 grandchildren. He was hired by the Titans on Jan. 3o.

The No. 1 reason for the quick shift, according to Pees, was Titans new head coach Mike Vrabel.

"Mike convinced me," said Pees, who coached Vrabel for five years in New England. "I felt very humbled that a guy that I coached would ask me to come back and be persistent with me coming here."

Pees also cited his struggle to transition to life after football and the allure of Nashville as reasons for his return.

"The truth of it is I didn’t foresee after two weeks that I would be ready to come back and (I) thought did I really do the right thing? I didn’t really understand, too, how it affected my wife, my kids and my grandkids," Pees said. "They were kinda depressed. Maybe my wife was depressed because I was going to be home. I started second guessing a little bit if this is what I want to do."

Vrabel kept calling to see if Pees would change his mind. A call from Vrabel on Jan. 26 was the closer that kept Pees and his wife up until 3 a.m. making a final decision. By Sunday, Pees was booking his flight to Nashville.

As for the Ravens, Pees knows the obvious conclusion will be that he was forced to retire or nudged out. He denies that scenario, saying Ravens coach John Harbaugh offered him an extension but he still decided to retire.

"My eight years in Baltimore were fantastic. They could not have treated me any better. I loved working for John Harbaugh," Pees said. "When Mike called, it got us reassessing where we were and did I want to stay retired."

One factor that brought more questions to Pees' decision to return was that the Titans hired his son, Matt Pees, as a defensive quality-control coach. Matt was previously a Colorado high school coach.

Dean Pees said he understands the surprise and skepticism regarding his decision and that his son came with him. But Pees is adamant that he accepted the Titans defensive coordinator job before Matt's name came into the picture.

"Him coming had no bearing on me taking this job," Dean Pees said. "I know there’s always going to be speculation. I knew that. I told my son that. I wouldn’t do that to Tennessee. That’s not fair to the Titans organization that I would come here only if my son was allowed to come here.

"That was a bonus. That was a dream come true that the Titans organization has made happen for me. I had already accepted the job then I started talking to Mike about who he was going to have on staff. He asked me, 'Is there anybody you got out there?' I said, 'Do we have anybody out there for the quality-control guy,' which is really a young coach breaking down film. I said, 'Can I throw a name at you and if you can make it happen great, if you can’t then you can’t.'"

The Ravens were also surprised by Pees' quick decision to return.

"I wish Dean all the luck," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said last week. "I understand he got his son in; I think that was a big point of his. We have a nepotism rule that may have prohibited that from happening in the last few years."

"I’m a little shocked. He’s 68 years old. It’s hard to give it up, I guess."

Dean Pees said he's all-in with the Titans now, despite his retirement back-and-forth. He noted he signed a "multiple-year" contract with the Titans and he plans to be in Tennessee until Vrabel doesn't want him anymore.

"It’s as if I didn’t retire. It’s no different to me than when you see head coaches leave for a couple years and do broadcasting, some of them get out for 10 years and become head coaches again. I’m here," Pees said. "I do not plan to make this a (one)-year deal at all. We’re planning on buying a home here in Nashville and being part of this community."

The questions about what Pees will bring to the Titans as a coach are far fewer. Pees has led six top-10 defenses in his 10 years as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens and Patriots. He's also won a Super Bowl with both teams.

Pees said he and Vrabel have the "same mold" of defensive philosophy, which is predicated on front multiplicity and coverage consistency.

The Titans are scheduled to play the Ravens in Nashville during the 2018 season.