People are rightly piling on Fisher these days. There’s lots of criticism, about half of which is richly deserved. But there’s no doubt in my mind that Fisher is gone after this season. If he doesn’t resign, he’ll be fired. Bud has to do it. The long term health of the franchise will require it.
But I thought I’d take a moment away from the bashing, and revisit that time in our team’s history that established Fisher as the best HC we've ever had. I’m speaking of course of 1999 and that one great run. it came up one yard short, but to this long suffering fan it remains a memory worth savoring every once in a while. And as I watch the Fisher era come to a close, this seems like one of those times. It’s the only SB I’ve ever attended in person.
It was Friday afternoon when I arrived in Atlanta. I flew in from California, and my brother drove down from Knoxville to meet me there. We met at the hotel bar, of course, at about 3:30. That entire weekend was spent within 50 feet of a bartender. We drank a few beers and shook our heads in disbelief that our team finally made it. We toasted the Bills who were good enough to out-choke our team in the wildcard round. The hotel was hosting a dinner party for former Heisman trophy winners and all of those guys started making their way to the bar. We eventually ended up drinking beer all afternoon with Mike Rosier, who was a lot of fun to hang out with. By Saturday the bar was filled with former greats. Everyone we talked to picked the Rams to win it, and many predicted a rout.
On game day we boarded the train to the stadium, wandered around in the ice storm looking for tix and finally made our way to our seats just before the National Anthem. We sat about halfway up along the goal line where all the action occurred at the end of the game. We were completely surrounded by Rams fans. Directly behind us and was a father in his 60s with his sons and son laws sitting next to us. The old man was telling us how much he respected the Titans. “If they weren’t playing the Rams” he said “I’d definitely be rooting for the Titans. Not all the Rams fans I encountered were as respectful. During a halftime beer run they were all saying “we’re kicking their asses.” I didn’t say anything but I kind of agreed with them. I was getting nervous the game would be rout.
But then the Titans made their run. Trailing by 16, they began to wear down the Rams. It was Fisherball at its finest. As the 4th Q progressed, all any of us could say to each other was “what an incredible game”. When the Titans tied it, the old man and his sons were stunned. “If we go to OT we’re screwed. “ When Warner hit his home run, they celebrated wildly and we started gather our stuff. But as you all know, this team had one more run in them. McNair shook of that sure sack by Carter, hit Dyson, OMG! The old man told his sons “however this turns out, we’re blessed to witness this SB”. He tapped me on the shoulder and said “that kid McNair is a stud. I love him.”
One yard short. From our seats we could see it perfectly. We turned to congratulate the old man behind us, he gave me a big hug. “what an incredible game! You have every reason to be proud” I told him, "we'll see you next year". He laughed, "no thanks, bring on the jaguars". On our way out of the stadium, on the train back to the hotel, then in the hotel bar, all we heard was “what an incredible game”. “The two best teams made it to the SB, they both played well, and it came right down to the wire.” “Best SB in decades.” 40 years watching these guys, and it is that game, that one last drive, that made me the proudest I’ve ever been of my team. It’s a game and an experience I’ll never forget.
Thank you Jeff Fisher for that.