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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jones: Fisher still going strong

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jeff Fisher is in his 13th full season as head coach of the Tennessee Titans and owns the franchise record for most wins with 110 victories. He is also the National Football League leader in tenure with one team among active coaches.

His status in that category was solidified recently when team owner Bud Adams rewarded him with a new contract running through the 2010 season. He also entered the ranks of the highest paid coaches in the league with the new deal.

The contract renewal came after one of Fisher's best coaching efforts, taking the 2006 team led by a rookie quarterback to an 8-8 finish.

In doing so, the Titans won eight of their last 11 games, including a six-game winning streak, to finish just one game out of the playoffs. It was a remarkable performance considering that the team lost their first five contests.

First-year quarterback Vince Young earned Rookie of the Year honors and the Titan offense posted the sixth highest rushing total in franchise history, thanks in large part to their new quarterback's elusive running style.

2006 was also the year that Fisher joined ranks with such greats as George Halas, Tom Landry, Don Shula, Bill Cowher, Joe Gibbs, Hank Stram, Bud Grant, Chuck Noll, Curly Lambeau, Marv Levy and Steve Owen as one of only 12 coaches to lead one team in 200 games.

Fisher is known as a players' coach and that should come as no surprise considering that he is a former defensive back, playing four seasons with the Chicago Bears before an ankle injury cut short his promising career.

Fisher was a stalwart punt return man who held the Bears' record of 509 return yards in a season (1981) until it was broken last year by Devin Hester with 600 yards.

He played his college ball at USC where he played in the same defensive backfield as future NFL stars Ronnie Lott, Dennis Smith and Joey Browner.

Fisher, a resident of Franklin, serves as co-chairman of the NFL Competition Committee and is active in various charity functions throughout the mid-state.

Closer to home, the Titan coach donated a game used autographed ball to a benefit held at Community High earlier this year for Taylor Garretson that raised over $500 to help his family defray the cost of his cancer treatments.

There are numerous other stories similar in nature when the coach has been called upon to help out individuals, schools or agencies throughout Tennessee.

Add it all up, and it would be easy to see why there are those that feel that the Titans are getting a bargain at a reported $5 million a year for the 48-year-old father of three.

Fisher never appeared to be worried about his contract status and owner Adams was quoted as saying that he wasn't going anywhere as long as a year ago.

When asked earlier this season about his status with the team he was quoted as saying:

"I've been asked numerous times throughout the offseason and through training camp about the status of it (contract) and my response each time was that I am confident that we'll get it done.

"We were able to wrap things up last week. Never at any time was I of the opinion that it was not going to get done. What was most important to me was the team, the players and winning games.

"With that being said, I'm very appreciative of Mr. Adams and Steve Underwood that we were able to work it out. As far as the specifics and the terms, those will always remain confidential in this organization and hopefully they will be so in this case.

"As I said earlier in the off-season, I have never even considered leaving. I enjoy living here, I enjoy coaching here and it was never a consideration. I hope I can finish my coaching career here.

"I look forward to coming to work every day. I enjoy the players, I enjoy the daily challenges and improvement.

"Most importantly, I was hired a long time ago to bring Mr. Adams a championship trophy and I work towards that every day.

"Mr. Adams is excited, as we are, for the future of this team."

Tennessee is excited about the team too. The team just had its 76th consecutive sellout at LP Field in their win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday to move their record to 3-1 for the season.

The future is bright for one of the youngest teams in the NFL and we are lucky to have a man like Jeff Fisher to captain the ship.

Most of us will not be too surprised if the Super Bowl flag is displayed high atop LP Field in the very near future with him at the helm.

I know I won't.

Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer.

Jimmy Jones
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