Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com
EARTH CITY, Mo. — Publicly, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has no intention of letting on that Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans means anything more to him than any of the other 297 games he has coached.
Fisher wasted no time making that clear Wednesday when asked about facing the team he coached for more than 16 seasons.
“There’s 16 players on the roster that were there when I was there, so the roster is just about completely turned over,” Fisher said. “There’s just a few coaches on the staff. So, the front office is turned over. To me, this is just another opponent.”
Tennessee still has some people in place from Fisher’s time there, not least of which includes head coach Mike Munchak, who got his start as an assistant under Fisher. Titans defensive consultant Gregg Williams was originally hired to be the defensive coordinator for Fisher in St. Louis, but that fell apart after Williams’ suspension for his role in the bounty scandal in New Orleans.
The Titans also have four other coaches who worked with Fisher in their organization, and the Rams have four players and five coaches who played for or worked for Fisher in Tennessee.
While he’s quick to downplay the many connections, Fisher does admit he has fond memories of his lengthy tenure in Nashville. After all, it was there that he led the team to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV, a game his Titans narrowly lost to the team he now runs.
The Titans/Oilers were the first organization to give Fisher a shot as a head coach, a move that was made when he was only 36. He won 147 games (including playoffs) there and he doesn’t take a single one for granted, but it’s clear his focus this week is on adding another victory to his Rams tally.
“Now, yes, I have great memories there and I owe the organization an awful lot or we wouldn’t be standing here right now,” Fisher said. “That includes the Adams family, but as far as the challenges this week, we’ve got challenges with their offense, their defense and their special teams.”
Fisher isn’t known for showing a whole lot of emotion but one would think it might be strange for him to look across the field and see the Titans uniform on the opposing sideline.
Only adding to the mix is the fact that the Rams will wear their 1999 blue and yellow throwback jerseys for Sunday’s game as a sort of tribute to that famous Super Bowl. The Titans came up a yard short of a potential tying touchdown when Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Tennessee wide receiver Kevin Dyson just short of the end zone as time expired.
With not many players left on Tennessee’s roster from Fisher’s final season there in 2010, he said the simple sight of the Titans uniform won’t be enough to stir any old feelings.
“I see the uniform occasionally in the building here on the walls so I’m used to it now,” Fisher said, referring to photos of the Super Bowl.
Halfway through his second season in St. Louis, Fisher hasn’t taken much time to sit back and reflect on his time in Tennessee. He doesn’t plan to this week, either, as he prepares the Rams on a short week coming off Monday’s 14-9 loss to Seattle.
Fisher said he never thought about coaching his entire career in one place but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy what he built in his time with Tennessee.
“I never came to work wondering what I was going to be doing next,” Fisher said. “It just all came together one day and I moved on to take some time off, but it was a long time there, we had a lot of fond memories and I developed relationships with a lot of former players. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ve moved on. They’re just another challenge for us this week.”
That likely will be a familiar refrain for Fisher this week, but that doesn’t mean he won’t turn it on a little behind closed doors.
“I think it will be ramped up,” said cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who also played for Fisher in Tennessee for six years. “I know he’ll shake a lot of hands and talk to former coaches and players that he’s seen, so it’s going to be emotional to say the least.
“I think he wants to win because it’s the next game but also because we are playing a team he formerly coached and he was a big part of building that tradition and history there. We definitely want to win for him.”
- Covered Rams for nine years for stlouisrams.com
- Previously covered University of Missouri football
- Member of Pro Football Writers of America