Former Titans Coach Jeff Fisher Thankful for the Memories, and for His Spot in the Ring of Honor

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NASHVILLE – Jeff Fisher will be inducted into the Titans Ring of Honor on Sunday at Nissan Stadium, and just the thought of it has stirred up all kinds of emotions.

While reflecting on his days as head coach of the Titans, Fisher remembers all the wins and losses, and the highs and lows. He remembers the friendships, his players, the relationships he built, and the efforts to generate interest in a city new to the NFL, and the way the team was eventually embraced.

And, looking back, he can't help but think of how much has changed over the years.

"It seems like yesterday (my oldest son) Brandon was just a boy, jumping up and down during the Music City Miracle when Kevin Dyson was scoring," Fisher said with a smile. "Now, I have a grandson running around. I have three grandkids, and two on the way.

"But it's that cycle of life, man. Things change, but it's great, right?"

Fisher, the winningest coach in franchise history, tallied 147 wins (142 regular season/5 postseason) from 1994-2010 and he guided the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season.

On Sunday, he'll be induced into the Ring of Honor with late Titans general manager Floyd Reese.

It will be a special day for Fisher, who will be joined at Nissan Stadium with his wife, Juli, and all three of his children, sons Brandon and Trent, and daughter, Tara, along with his grandchildren. All three of his children, who grew up in Nashville and attended the same elementary school and graduated from the same high school, are now married.

Fisher has also invited close friends Steve Watterson and Alan Lowry, two long-time assistants from his staff with the Titans, to join him this weekend. Former Titans running back Eddie George, now head coach at Tennessee State, and other friends are also expected to be there for the halftime tribute.

Fisher regrets Reese, who passed away earlier this year, won't be there alongside him.

He's also saddened by the fact his parents won't be there, as both his mother and father passed away in the past year.

"I wish they could be there," Fisher said of his mom and dad. "But I am fortunate I had really cool, quality, special time with them as their life was winding down. Nothing was left unsaid."

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The rewards from his coaching journey have been on Fisher's mind leading up to this weekend, and that's what makes his induction into the Ring of Honor so special, he said.

"I have been reflecting as of late, on everything, bringing all those fond, cool memories into the forefront," Fisher said. "It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be able to relocate a franchise into a community where they were unfamiliar with what we were bringing to town. And to get so entrenched, and woven into the fabric of this community, to be a part of the memories.

"What's really neat about this is that all those people who made the journey with us, starting in 1997 and '98 and of course '99 and beyond, that generation now is sharing that experience with a new generation of Titans fans. And this is an opportunity for the young fans to take a moment and push pause and figure out how it all happened and learn about the history. The Ring of Honor, in their eyes and in my eyes, preserves that history.

"So just to be a part of it, I am really honored and flattered."

Fisher has a huge role in the franchise's history.

As the team moved from Houston to Tennessee in 1997, Fisher took on the unofficial role of ambassador and salesman for NFL football to new fans. Fisher originally joined the Oilers in 1994 as defensive coordinator, before being elevated to interim head coach by Reese with six games remaining.

In 16 full seasons at the helm, Fisher only had four losing records. He's the only head coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, a mark he reached three times (1999, 2000, 2008). From 1999 to 2003, the Titans 61 wins in the regular season and playoffs tied the St. Louis Rams for the most in the NFL.

Fisher guided the team to a pair of AFC Championship Games, and to Super Bowl XXXIV.

Fisher has only been back to Nissan Stadium twice for Titans games – once as head coach of the Rams for a preseason game, another time when George and late Titans quarterback Steve McNair were inducted into the Ring of Honor themselves.

"All those memories for me start from the beginning of the Oilers days and they continue until the day I left the Titans, and there's so many memories and experiences and relationships and great times, and things that happened," Fisher said.

"But I don't want to discount the 100s and 100s of moments where somebody at a gas station or somebody at a restaurant or somebody at a Preds game or somebody at the airport stopped me just to say, 'Thank you." And all those moments since where I was able to meet and thank those people that were supporting us over the years, that is what's special and that's what the Ring of Honor does. It's a reminder of those that contributed, paved the way, if you will…. The entire experience was so special to me."

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Fisher, inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame last year, said he still follows the Titans, and pulls for them.

And, he sees some of the same characteristics in the current Titans as the teams he guided alongside Reese during some of the best years in the franchise's history.

This year's Titans team is currently 8-2, with the best record in the AFC.

"In so many ways this team reminds me of some of the teams we assembled in the past," Fisher said. "The Titans (now) are built to sustain, they're built for November and December. And they have taken on the same, small-market, nobody-knows-anything-about us mentality. They really don't care what anybody thinks. The only thing these players and this staff cares about is themselves, and each other. And that's a winning formula. Mike (Vrabel) and Jon (Robinson) have done a great job assembling this roster."

On Sunday, when Fisher is formally inducted in the Ring of Honor, he'll think about the journey from Houston to Nashville, and those who experienced it with him.

He'll think about his family, and those who supported him.

Asked what he wants people to think about when they see his name in the Ring of Honor in the years to come, Fisher said he's hopeful they'll remember how everyone was in it together.

Some things never change.

"I want people to realize, as important as winning and the success of the organization was to our group, the relationships between the players, the staff, the organization and our fan base was always held up there as the No.1 priority," Fisher said. "The relationship between what we were doing on the field, and those in the stands that were enjoying it, was always important. And I hope that we never ever lose sight of that.

"It's a unique intimacy that we established here (in Nashville) that we want to continue. Nashville is ever-changing, just look around. … I hope I'm a reminder of how important it is, that relationship between the players, the fans, the organization and the community. Because without those fans that are in the stands, week after week after week after week, year after year, you have nothing. And I just hope that I am a reminder of that relationship because it was always very important to me."

Jeff Fisher will be inducted in the Tennessee Titan's Ring of Honor. Fisher is the winningest coach in franchise history, amassing 147 wins (142 regular season/5 postseason) from 1994-2010 and the team's only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season. In 16 full seasons at the helm, he only had five losing records and he is the only head coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, a mark he reached three times (1999, 2000, 2008). From 1999 to 2003, the Titans 61 wins in the regular season and playoffs tied the St. Louis Rams for the most in the NFL. Hallmarks of a Jeff Fisher team included a strong run game and an attacking defense. (AP Images)

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