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Titans, longtime coach Fisher parting ways

Jeff Fisher was the NFL’s longest-tenured coach. Jeff Fisher was the NFL’s longest-tenured coach. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Associated Press / January 28, 2011

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The Tennessee Titans have parted with Jeff Fisher, the NFL’s longest-tenured coach who just completed his 16th full season. The team announced the surprising move last night within an hour of a report by SI.com that it was negotiating Fisher’s departure, and a news conference is scheduled for today.

The team said in a release that “Fisher will no longer be the head coach of the team,’’ and released a longer statement a couple of hours later saying it will always appreciate his leadership through some of their “greatest heights.’’

“It became evident that consensus was increasingly hard to find and reality wasn’t matching the vision we discussed. It is unfortunate that this decision is coming at this juncture, but we believe that we have reached the point where change is in the best interest of both parties,’’ according to the statement.

The move comes only three weeks after owner Bud Adams announced Fisher would stay for the final year of his current contract. Instead, the partnership that dated to the team’s days in Houston is over.

Fisher thanked Adams and the franchise for “a special 17 years’’ in a statement released by the team.

“It has been a tremendous experience. We all did our very best and I think I can look back with fond memories and be very proud of what we accomplished. I want to wish the organization, the current players and the fans nothing but the best in the future,’’ Fisher said.

Fisher led the Titans to the NFL’s best record (13-3) in 2008, but since then has had a rocky run. In 2009, Tennessee dropped its first six games before rallying to finish at .500, and this season the Titans staggered to a 6-10 record, losing eight of their last nine games and ranking near the bottom of the league in yards gained and yards allowed.

A rift between Fisher and Vince Young coincided with the downward spiral. Fisher benched Young midseason and the quarterback eventually was placed on injured reserve. Adams seemingly backed his coach when he said Young would not be with the team in 2011. Now neither the quarterback nor Fisher will be around.

Adams promoted Fisher from defensive coordinator to interim coach with six games left in the 1994 season after firing Jack Pardee. Fisher is 142-120 in the regular season, and just 5-6 in the playoffs, with no wins since a wild-card matchup in January 2004.

Costly consequences The NFL already is feeling financial effects from the uncertainty of its labor negotiations.

The league estimates its cumulative gross revenue losses could reach $1.7 billion by 2015 if there is no agreement with the players’ union before the next regular season is scheduled to start.

In a 1 1/2-hour session with reporters at league headquarters in New York yesterday, a half-dozen NFL executives set out to explain why they believe both sides could forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars if a new labor collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by the March 3 deadline.

“Players have a lot of risk; clubs have a lot of risk,’’ said Jeff Pash, the NFL’s lead labor negotiator. “We know that the financial consequences of no agreement — of a significant delay in reaching an agreement — will be significant and will be shared. It does not fall on one party.’’

Sponsorship deal renewals already are problematic, with some companies telling the NFL they will not commit money if there is a work stoppage, according to Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president of business operations.

The league estimates there would be a cut in gross revenues of $120 million without a new agreement by early March — $350 million if there’s no CBA by August, before the preseason starts; $1 billion if no new contract is in place until September. The losses would continue over the following years, the NFL said, because regaining business would be difficult in some areas.

Based mainly on losses of gate receipts, the revenue losses could reach “in excess of $400 million a week once the regular season starts,’’ Grubman said.

Break in the case? Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey did not practice again because of a left ankle injury. He was seen in a cast and on crutches Wednesday. Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported, citing unidentified sources, that Pouncey has a broken bone in his left ankle to go with a sprain.

Also not practicing for Pittsburgh was starting cornerback Bryant McFadden, who has a strained abdomen.

There was no change in the Steelers’ injury status from Wednesday: All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu (Achilles’), wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (foot), left tackle Jonathan Scott (ribs), and special teamer Will Allen (knee) all did not practice again, but Allen is the only one with an injury expected to be serious enough to put his status for the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 in question.

Peppers fined $10k Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was fined $10,000 by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship game that drew blood from the Green Bay quarterback. Two people familiar with the fine, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Peppers was notified Wednesday by the league . . . There were three late additions to the Pro Bowl rosters. Denver’s Champ Bailey will be making his 10th appearance, a record for cornerbacks. He replaces Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha, who is skipping Sunday’s game for medical reasons. Also heading to Hawaii were Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson and Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin.

Reed’s brother ID’d An autopsy confirmed that a body pulled from the Mississippi River is that of the brother of Ravens safety Ed Reed. Authorities in Harvey, La., on Wednesday had tentatively identified the body as 29-year-old Brian Reed, who jumped into the river about 30 miles northwest of New Orleans after an encounter with a sheriff’s deputy on Jan. 7. The autopsy confirmed the identity and found the preliminary cause of death to be accidental drowning . . . The Ravens fired quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn after one season. Coach John Harbaugh said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will work closer with quarterback Joe Flacco next season.

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