I had always believed the media narrative that Jeff Fisher hated Vince and Vince Young despised Fisher, but that is not true. Actually Vince and Jeff are the best of friends. I recently discovered that the whole Jeff Fisher vs Vince Young drama was Kabuki theater. After the shock of seeing these two men at a local bar together again laughing, telling jokes and having fun, I downed a couple of shots of Jack Daniels with them and began to see the logic of why these men were perpetrating this mano-a-mano hoax on the public.Reality can sometimes be completely turned upside down because most reporters are too lazy and cowardly to publicize the truth. It’s the fear of jeopardizing their access to certain teams and players that make the media eager to tell the fans what they think us fans want to hear. Alternatively, this reporter has no such encumbrances.
A renown Vince Young hater and sports media figure that all of us know and love contacted me last week and asked if I wanted to see something very extraordinary. He took me to a hole in the wall beer joint in Cheatham County Tennessee where to my amazement, I saw Vince and coach Fisher together sitting at the bar, drinking beer and both grinning like a couple of kids on Christmas day.
In just the first few minutes of speaking to these two men, I realized that Vince and Jeff’s relationship is complicated and I confess that at first their story didn't make sense but right or wrong you have to respect them for the decisions that they've made.
When Jeff was the head coach of the Titans he wanted his bosses to believe that there was a rupture between he and Vince so that Vince would get a contract extension and stay in Tennessee. Coach Fisher told his bosses that Vince was a mental case and wasn't developing into an NFL quarterback. Jeff told his bosses that Vince had a poor work ethic, that Vince was too lazy and immature. But Jeff never really believed any of those negative comments. Coach Fisher always believed that Vince would be an elite quarterback. And to further convince Jeff’s bosses of a rift between the two, VY put on a charade. Vince took care of his responsibilities by staging temper tantrums and meltdowns to give coach Fisher the leverage he needed, thereby giving the illusion that he was unstable. In short, Jeff put his reputation and job on the line to help his friend Vince. So it is true that there is no greater love than for one man to sacrifice his job for a friends job.
Their ruse kinda makes sense. Have you ever had your bosses give you a false set of options? Everyone knows the old rule to never tell your supervisors your true intentions. If your bosses ask you to choose between relocating to the new office in Hawaii or the new office in Detroit, you had better say Detroit if you want any chance of getting the gig in Hawaii. Right or wrong, Fisher used this premise when he told his bosses that he couldn’t win with Vince as his quarterback, knowing full well that he always wanted Vince as his starter.
Today both men wished they could have stayed and ended their careers with the team. They regret the mistakes that were made during their tenure together and both men expressed remorse in not winning a Super Bowl while they were in Tennessee. Both men believe that this is a very special time and that the current Titans team has so much promise. All of us reminisced on all the great Titans teams of the past and Vince reminded me that adversity builds character in life and in football.
“The current team is going through a rough patch right now but would eventually get back on track once it finds it’s identity.” Fisher said. Coach Fisher told me that “the old run and shoot offense will never be a good fit for the Titans. The run and shoot was successful for the old Houston Oilers, but when the team arrived in Nashville, everything changed. The team wasn’t the Houston Oilers or the Tennessee Oilers anymore. They became the Tennessee Titans which has its own brand, it own identity, it own mindset. There is power in a name. The city of Nashville and Houston are different and the people are different. So you can’t take old Oiler retreads and think it will work in Tennessee.”
“Steve McNair and Eddie George created the model for what works in Tennessee. It stingy, punch them in the mouth defense and a power offense that always imposed its will. Has the offense had any personal fouls called on it lately? No, because they are afraid of a fight. The earlier Titans teams played on the edge. Opposing teams hated to play us because of our physicality. Number 9 was a fearless mobile quarterback that beat defenses with his feet, but could put up MVP type passing yards when you asked him to. Steve was rugged, he played hurt and lead the team by example. That is why the team drafted Jake Locker; to play with reckless abandonment.” Both men believe the front office should never forget the winning formula that made the Titans one of the best teams in the league when Steve played. The front office should get its head out of its ass and stop trying to turn Jake into the run and shoot Warren Moon and let him become Steve McNair!!
We all drank a toast in memory of Steve then I pounded my shot glass on the bar and told them “boys, I have to go. I have to get up early to send this post in to MCM.” Vince laughed and told me why he and Jeff gave me this exclusive interview. Both men knew that I was banned from MCM and wanted me to have my full privilege reinstated so that I could be able to post more conspiracy theories on MCM again.
As I was leaving the bar closing the door behind me, Coach Fisher yelled out “Hey Helicopterz, you have to know that the management and bloggers at MCM will never believe this story don't you?” I looked back at coach, tipped my fedora, picked up my IBM selectric typewriter and smiled.
No one will ever know the burden I carry. Always being hunted and always misunderstood and branded as a nutcase. It not easy doing the hard to get interviews that no other journalist will touch.
You’re welcome. That will be 1 Pulitzer and a MCM Head Writer’s job please.