Fisher, other familiar faces return for preseason play

Friday, August 21, 2015, Vol. 39, No. 34

Former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher won’t see that many familiar faces when he looks across the field at his old team on Sunday.

-- Ap File Photo/Kevin Terrell

The Tennessee Titans welcome back a familiar face Sunday night when Jeff Fisher rolls back into Nashville as coach of the St. Louis Rams.

It’s just preseason, so it’s little more than a glorified scrimmage with full-price admission.

Has it really been five years since Fisher and the Titans parted ways after the 2010 season?

Yes it has. But if you want to see Titans present going up against Titans past, then the nationally televised preseason game is must-see TV in Middle Tennessee.

Not only do Fisher’s Rams feature four former Titans players in Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Akeem Ayers and William Hayes, the coaching staff has plenty of old familiar faces, as well.

That list includes Dave McGinnis, Gregg Williams, Chuck Cecil, Ray Sherman and Frank Bush, plus former Tennessee Oilers player Joe Bowden, and Fisher’s own son Brandon.

Jeff, a lot has changed around Nashville since you and Bud Adams had the falling out that led to your departure and eventual landing. For one thing, Bud is gone and his family sort of runs the team in a nebulous way.

It’s not clear who is doing what and for how long.

The team? Except for the uniforms, you won’t recognize much about these Titans.

We in Nashville are now two coaches removed from your 17-year run, with Ken Whisenhunt replacing Mike Munchak last year.

Whisenhunt is in the midst of remaking most everything Titans in his image and system.

As for the players, oh, there are still a handful of guys who will go by and shake hands with you in the pre-game warmups. Michael Griffin is still here, as are Derrick Morgan, Jason McCourty, Craig Stevens and Brett Kern. Fernando Velasco came back this year after a couple of years away.

But outside of those five guys, you won’t recognize any of the other players on the current 90-man training camp roster.

After several years of wandering in the wilderness following your departure, the Titans bottomed out last year at 2-14. Their reward?

A brand new quarterback in Marcus Mariota who, given time, might just bring back some of the excitement that has been missing around here since your last run of success a few years before you left.

But the truth is, Jeff, when you walk back through the gates at Nissan Stadium – that’s what we’ve started calling it this year after they wrote a big check to the Titans – chances are, you’ll find a lot of Titans fans that are still on your side.

Many will pay tribute to you for the glory days of Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999 and even wish for the not-so-glory days of 8-8 seasons, which don’t look all that bad by comparison to the past couple of years, during which the Titans went 7-9, 2-14.

Oh, there may be a smattering of boos here and there, but by and large Titans fans – the ones that still bother to come to the games – will welcome you back with a nice round of applause.

The Titans will probably have some sort of tribute on the Jumbotron, as well.

After all, you spent 17 years coaching this team, and came with it when it relocated from Houston to Nashville in 1997.

They at least owe you that much, even with all of the ups and downs that came with your run as head coach.

But frankly, speaking as a media member, I do miss some of the adventures and unpredictability that was around in those days.

We haven’t forgotten Pacman Jones’ many “scrip club” shenanigans, the misadventures of Vince Young and the way you battled Adams’ adoration for him, your wearing a Peyton Manning jersey just hours after a 59-0 blasting from the Patriots because you “wanted to feel like a winner,” or Albert Haynesworth stepping on an opponent’s head.

Ah, good times.

Hey, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses with the Titans when you ran the show, but at least it was never dull.

And that’s something I can’t always say about the current Titans.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for and is a blogger for 247 Sports NFL Insider.