October 20, 2009

Jeff Fisher: Secret Genius or Maniac?

He could be bringing it all down from the inside.

By Robb Witmer Full 

"Individuals have prominence over their psyches and can liberate themselves from horrible states of being as the world goes to shit around them." -James Ellroy
"Bud Adams 'can't understand' Titans' play." -Headline in The Tennessean, October 19, 2009

One can only wonder of the dark depths to which Jeff Fisher has sunk after leading his team to perhaps the most calamitous loss in professional sports history. His soul is probably playing three-card poker with Rich Kotite somewhere, each on their sixth Crown and Coke.

"Fisher's always been a good coach," I said at a bar before the season started. "Underrated."

"For a while now," said the football fan I was talking to. At the time we had no idea that we were jabbering like madmen.

Going into last season, the Titans looked like a kinda-crappy team. They had bat-shit Vince Young at quarterback, backed up by wash-up Kerry Collins. These career underachievers were throwing to basically nobody, so the offense looked to be a joke.

After sending Young out to chop wood, Collins came in and turned out to be rejuvenated (read: mediocre). The running game and defense were enough to get them to 13 wins. These are sure signs that Fisher knows what he's doing, right?

Except that this year he's taken a kinda-crappy team and put them -- after only six weeks -- in the running for the worst team of all time. They're already playing catch-up to the '08 Lions.

The Titans at this point might as well bring in Steve Kragthorpe to be Fisher's co-head coach, that way the rest of the season could be one big Not-Giving-A-Shit Festival.

Now Fisher is distancing himself from his own team. In an act of incredible nutcasery he appeared in public wearing the jersey of Peyton Manning. "I just wanted to feel like a winner," he said.

That's something only losers say. Fisher is either going off the deep end, or somehow attempting to rise above his own team. It's sheer lunacy either way.

There are rumors going around that his plan is to bring the NFL down from the inside, to dismantle the framework of parity that rules all in the league. The NFL is not a world where 59-0 is supposed to be possible, where millionaire athletes up and quit because they're in last place, or out of the playoff picture, or it's cold.

At least it didn't used to be. Jeff Fisher is changing the dynamics of professional football forever, possibly setting the league back decades, or, more likely, pushing it towards its most glorious days yet.

One thing is certain; Fisher has not taken his eye off the ball.

"I am a coach and do the best I can with this football team," he said. "There's all kinds of distractions in the National Football League. It is how you deal with them."

Right on, brother.

Robb Witmer Full is out there somewhere.