Jeff Fisher is a coach who has always had his finger on the pulse of his team. It’s why he’s been with the same organization for 16 years.
Fisher is never going to let one player hold his team hostage. It’s why he wasn’t afraid to bring in Randy Moss, and it’s why he now isn’t afraid to take on Vince Young.
We’ve heard about the postgame fallout in the Titans’ locker room, and Fisher was never going to sit in front of his team and let a player undermine him. He wasn’t going to let Young put the focus on himself. The focus is and always should be on the team, and never about anyone else but the team.
For Young to walk out after Fisher tried to calm him down, it was clear — in front of the whole team — that he was walking out on them.
Fisher is a coach who commands respect, and I think he does it the right way. He doesn’t belittle people, he’s not a bully and he treats men the way men want to be treated. I always believed that most head coaches understand that respect is reciprocal. You have to give respect in order to get it back. While many coaches make you earn it, Fisher is so confident in himself that he’s willing to give all players respect when they walk in the door until they prove they don’t deserve it. It’s up to the player if they want to burn up that equity.
Well, Young is burning the remaining equity he has with Fisher, who on several occasions has allowed the quarterback to work his way back and rebuild the respect of the coaching staff and his teammates. Fisher provides Young with a roadmap to earn it back, but he just torches the bridge. He napalms it. It’s gone in an instant.
The latest incident involving Young happened in front of the entire team, and not behind closed doors. The team saw it for themselves, and there’s no way that can sit well with anyone who is trying to win football games. You can’t follow someone who is supposed to be a leader and creates this drama.
Knowing Fisher the way that I do, there’s always a chance the damage is irreversible. But with Fisher, there’s also almost always a second chance. Young has already had second and third chances, and if he gets another to earn back Fisher’s respect, it will be more difficult this time around than it ever has been in the past.
In the time I’ve spent with Young, I witnessed his growth in maturity and heard him say the right things, which I hadn’t heard before. But I’ve always maintained the moments the “new” Young would be tested would be moments of adversity that were still to come. When people turn over a new leaf, only time can really tell. As optimistic as we may be, and as much as I believed in him, I still told myself that.
I think yesterday was a time that told us a lot about Young.
Far be it for me to judge what Fisher does, but I do know he’s going to take the team and move on. If the Titans ever call on Young again, we’ll see if he’s prepared for that moment. If not, Fisher and the Titans will roll without him.
One player doesn’t hold the Titans back.
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