Titans, Jeff Fisher part ways - WKRN News 2

Titans, Jeff Fisher part ways

Posted: Updated: Jan 28, 2011 8:05 AM CST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jeff Fisher, the NFL's longest-tenured head coach, is no longer coach of the Tennessee Titans.
In a statement released Thursday evening, the organization said, "The Tennessee Titans and Jeff Fisher have agreed to part ways and Fisher will no longer be the head coach of the team."

A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Baptist Sports Park to discuss the move.  Watch the press conference live on News 2.

The team said they would immediately begin the process of searching for a new head coach, interviewing potential candidates over the weekend.

Jon Gruden, Dave McGinnis, Jim Mora Jr., Mike Munchak and Gregg Williams are among the names being thrown out.

A decision could be made as early as Monday.

While the news of Fisher's departure comes as a shock to many, a source very close to the situation told Nashville's News 2 that it was a decision several weeks in the making.

"We will be forever appreciative of Jeff Fisher's leadership and accomplishments through his time with our franchise," the Titans said in a release later on Thursday night.  "We reached some of our greatest heights and experienced some unforgettable moments during his tenure."

The release went on to say, "After the season was complete, we had numerous discussions on the direction of the team and were pleased that we were moving forward with Jeff at the helm.  Since that time, it became evident that consensus was increasingly hard to find and reality wasn't matching the vision we discussed. It is unfortunate that this decision is coming at this juncture, but we believe that we have reached the point where change is in the best interest of both parties."

Fisher has been on the job with the Houston/Tennessee organization since being named interim head coach late in the 1994 season, and he was expected to return for a 17th season this year.

Fisher's future with the team, however, was considered somewhat tenuous given that he was entering the final year of his contract, and owner Bud Adams did not decide to retain him until January 7, five days after the Titans closed out a disappointing 6-10 season, the team's worst in five years.

In choosing to keep Fisher and release fifth-year starting quarterback Vince Young, Adams had seemingly settled the stand-off that had existed between Fisher and Young since late November, when the two had a heated argument in the Titans' post-game locker room following a home loss to Washington.

While it's not known what prompted the change regarding Fisher's status, numerous reports have hinted Fisher was not happy to lose a pair of his longtime defensive coaches.

Fisher fired defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, one of his closest friends, last week and saw defensive line coach Jim Washburn accept a similar position with the Eagles.

Given that he had just one year of security to offer any potential coaching replacements, it was thought that Fisher's task of filling those roles would be difficult.

Fisher, who turns 53 next month, was under contract for $6.5 million in 2011, and had been in his job more than four full seasons longer than the NFL's next most-tenured head coach, Philadelphia's Andy Reid.

Fisher spoke exclusively to Nashville's News 2 on Thursday night.

"It's been 17 great years and I can't say enough how much I appreciate everything.  It's been difficult and we'll have details tomorrow.  That's it.  I appreciate our relationship and everything we've done together and we'll have more details tomorrow."

Players, Fans React

Former Titans player Brad Hopkins told Nashville's News 2 that he was surprised by Thursday's announcement.

"This is a business, we all understand that, but given the moves that had just transpired, you were thinking that Jeff's position here was solidified, but obviously not so much," Hopkins said, adding, "Jeff has always had his pulse on the players. He knows when to push and pull. He's a smart guy, he's likable, he's got a lot of character to him, a lot of veterans gravitate toward that."

Hopkins continued, "The uncertainty I know is [kind of] scary, but if you think about it, nothing's been proven here, so I guess it's the glass half empty versus half full, but the guy that comes in here that's filling Jeff Fisher's shoes, he hasn't lost a game yet. That's a good thing."

Chris Sanders, former wide receiver for the Titans spoke highly of Fisher.

"He's probably one of the best coaches I've ever been around because he doesn't just care about you as a football player; he cares about you as an individual, that's what makes him so special."

The former Titans player said he is upset by all the controversy surrounding the team.

"It just really breaks my heart being a former Tennessee Titan, but I just think it should be better than it is," Sanders said, adding, "When you have a situation like this in such a disarray, it just brings tears to my eyes."

Vince Young also weighed in on the franchise's decision.

"All I can go off is what they said, which is that they are going to release or trade me," Young said.   "That's all I think about my future right now."

He said he did not know what his future would hold, but he was certain it would not be with the Titans in Nashville.

Like many of the players, many Titans' fans were shocked by the team's announcement regarding Fisher on Thursday evening.

"Every good relationship you know has to come to an end and I think he's done a good job, but maybe it might be time for a change," Titans' fan Carl Cowan told Nashville's News 2.

Long-time Titans fans remember the high points of Fisher's tenure in Tennessee.

"Basically he took a team that was a good team out of Texas and brought that team to the Super Bowl and this whole state was pulling for him," Titans' fan Gabe Pizzillo said.

Though many fans are surprised to see Fisher go, they are also looking forward to see what happens next for the team.

"Obviously that was going to happen anyway with Vince [Young] being gone, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens, but definitely we're Titans' supporters and looking forward to seeing what happens next year," Joe Mereau said.

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