Fisher's Attempt At Humor Could Backfire
Fisher’s attempt at humor could backfire
By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
4 hours, 32 minutes ago
It’s rare that an accomplished NFL head coach does something so off the wall that you have to question whether he’s actually daring his owner to fire him. And it’s almost unthinkable that coach would be the Tennessee Titans’ Jeff Fisher.
Then came Tuesday, when Fisher donned a Peyton Manning jersey before a crowded audience and illustrated that his timing, like his record this season, is far from perfect.
The moment happened during a charity event for Rocketown, a Nashville area non-profit. While doing his setup for keynote speaker and former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, Fisher stripped off his jacket and tie, then pulled away his dress shirt to reveal Manning’s No. 18 Colts jersey. He then punctuated the attire by taking a little poke at himself and the Titans’ 0-6 record, quipping: “I just wanted to feel like a winner.” In video taken at the event, the crowd laughs before a few spectators give an “Ohhhh” when Fisher drops his “feel like a winner” line.
As in, “Ohhhh, I can’t believe he just said that.”
Not since Mike Ditka’s dreadlocked wig has a coach’s attempt at humor had such lasting potential to backfire. Ditka, with the New Orleans Saints at the time, mugged in his dreads after trading his entire selection of picks for the right to select Ricky Williams No. 5 overall in the 1999 NFL draft. And 10 years later, that image is still synonymous with the beginning of Ditka’s end in New Orleans. Only time will tell if Fisher rocking the jersey of a division rival has the same wincing effect in 10 years that it will surely elicit in Titans fans this week.
I don’t want to be the heavy here. I get the joke. I understand that it was a little gallows humor by a respected 15-year head coach who was just trying to lighten an otherwise crushing season. But of all the weeks and all the gags, why Fisher decided to pull it now is beyond me. His team is 0-6 and spiraling. It just endured an embarrassing 59-0 blitzkrieg at the hands of the New England Patriots. The quarterback position is a smoldering heap. Certainly the last thing any Tennessee fan (or season ticketholder) wants to see right now is Fisher wearing the jersey of a hated rival – let alone a quarterback playing out of his mind for a team that is off to the kind of start we anticipated from the Titans.
It will be defended in some quarters as no big deal, that it was just a throwaway joke in an abysmal year. And I don’t honestly believe that Fisher is trying to draw the ire of the fan base or owner Bud Adams. But think of the other long-tenured coaches in the NFL. Can you imagine Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid in an Eli Manning jersey? Knowing Eagles fans, he might not make it to work the next day.
And honestly, it’s getting harder for me to believe that Fisher isn’t moving toward shaky ground in Tennessee. If Mike Shanahan – who delivered two Super Bowl wins for the Denver Broncos – can be fired after 14 years with that franchise, I certainly don’t think Fisher falls into the untouchable class.
It’s not as if his moves are all beyond doubt. Regardless of what you think of Vince Young, the move to Kerry Collins was ultimately Fisher’s choice. If he gets credit for Collins and the Titans’ success in 2008, then he also shoulders ultimate responsibility for the failures of ’09. And even with the wide swath of injuries in the secondary, this team is too good to lose any game 59-0 – and it very well could have reached 80-0 if New England had no conscience whatsoever.
I still don’t understand Fisher’s decision with defensive end Jevon Kearse, who packed up and went home when he found out he was a healthy scratch before the team’s Week 5 game against Indianapolis. Fisher declined to fine Kearse, whose departure upon finding out his inactive status is far from typical behavior. On some teams, it wouldn’t be tolerated. One AFC executive, who has been in the league for more than 20 years and worked for several teams, told Yahoo! Sports that he’s never seen a player go unpunished for leaving the stadium after being designated a healthy game-day scratch.
But Fisher insisted Kearse is “a good teammate, he’s had a great career and he’s still got a lot left.” So he gave him the benefit of the doubt for making a poor decision. It doesn’t seem like a huge deal, except that it will inevitably resonate in the minds of Kearse’s teammates that some Titans are put into a different class than others. And those divisions undermine a locker room. Just ask Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley about the mess he and general manager Scott Pioli are cleaning up in Kansas City. Issues with the “star system” and “favorites” ran rampant in that franchise, and it could take years of roster-churning to cleanse the attitudes it fostered.
Make no mistake: Fisher is in the midst of a mess. Whether it’s the quarterback issue, injuries or the collapse against New England, the Titans suddenly have significant long-term concerns. And Fisher can either work toward solving those concerns or make himself one of them. On Tuesday, he did the latter.
Re: Fisher's Attempt At Humor Could Backfire
I know Cowboys fans are salivating at the mere thought Fisher gets fired. They have been on talk radio all day hoping and praying he gets fired so JJ could hire him.