Jeff Fisher: Hall of Famer?!?
On Sunday at LP Field against the Denver Broncos, Jeff Fisher will coach his 250th game with the Oilers/Titans franchise.
Only seven other men in league history have coached at least 250 games with the same team. ALL SEVEN ARE IN THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME.
Fisher joins names such as Halas, Noll, Landry and Shula. It’s a veritable NFL Rushmore.
“It’s actually the first I’ve heard of it, but of course it’s an honor to be mentioned,” Fisher said. “The players get the credit for the wins and often times we’ll take a little bit of the responsibility for the losses. Again, I hate to say this, but this is just about the next opponent this week, but it is nice to be mentioned with those same names.”
These days, owners change coaches as often as they change ticket prices, making Fisher a unique animal in today’s NFL. He easily is the league’s longest-tenured coach. Philadelphia’s Andy Reid is second, and Fisher has five years on him.
Of the seven men on the list, only Shula (whose last year was 1995) and Noll (1991) coached into the 1990s. A couple of teams have had six coaches since Fisher took over the then-Houston Oilers in 1994.
Titans owner Bud Adams has stuck with Fisher. They’ve had a couple of touch-and-go moments, but for the most part those have been few and far between over the past 17 years.
“I’ve said this time and time and year after year, that’s where the credit goes to,” Fisher said. “He (Adams) understands this game very well, and he has surrounded each one of us with great people in this organization that are all pulling in the same direction.”
It all serves to beg the question: Is Fisher someday going to join the other seven in Canton? The coach has become a polarizing figure in Middle Tennessee. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. His detractors will point to his lack of championships and his middling winning percentage (.554). It is, in fact, the lowest among the 20 winningest coaches in league history.
But that’s part of the conundrum with Fisher. It’s not a sparkling winning percentage, but there he is on the list of the 20 winningest coaches. He’s third in victories among active coaches, trailing only Bill Belichick and Mike Shanahan.
Only one of the seven coaches with 250 games with the same team, Minnesota’s Bud Grant, never won a championship. But, Grant guided the Vikings to four Super Bowls and had a .622 winning percentage. As Titans fans are all too painfully aware, Fisher and his teams have been to only one Super Bowl. He hasn’t won a playoff game since 2003. Then again, if Kevin Dyson doesn’t come up a yard short in Super Bowl XXXIV the Titans coach already might have been considered a lock for a bronze bust.
Right now, today, Jeff Fisher probably wouldn’t make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he’s hardly a Hail Mary away from serious consideration.