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Nepotism may have greased the skids for Fisher’s exit

Jeff Fisher

Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher yells at officials in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2010, in Houston. The Texans beat the Titans 20-0. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


Four years ago, the Chargers abruptly fired coach Marty Schottenheimer weeks after the conclusion of a 14-2 regular season that was followed by a one-and-out performance in the playoffs. The move reportedly occurred after Schottenheimer tried to hire his brother, Kurt, to serve as defensive coordinator.

On Thursday, the Titans abruptly fired coach Jeff Fisher weeks after the conclusion of a mediocre regular season that was followed by no performance in the playoffs for the tenth time in Jeff Fisher’s tenure. There are reports that the abrupt reversal arose from efforts by Fisher to hire his son, Brandon.

According to Darren McFarland of, G.M. Mike Reinfeldt initially approved the move. Owner Bud Adams reportedly intervened, prohibiting the hiring of Brandon Fisher as part of his general philosophy against hiring family members.

As McFarland explains it, Brandon Fisher worked as a volunteer for the Titans last year, and Jeff Fisher planned to take Brandon to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. But Fisher reportedly was told Brandon could not attend at the team’s expense, and that he would not be given a position on the Titans’ staff.

Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, after initially sharing a quote from Fisher that the suggestion that efforts to hire his son triggered the firing are “bogus,” reported via Twitter that the effort to hire Brandon Fisher was a “point of contention,” and but that it was “just a part of the decision” to part ways.

Still, given that Jeff Fisher didn’t make an appearance at the Senior Bowl this week and given that he was fired during Senior Bowl week, there’s a chance that the “point of contention” also became the catalyst.

Nepotism is in many respects a fact of life in the NFL. Earlier this week, Tony Sparano hired his son in Miami. In Washington, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan need not worry much about being fired, since his father, Mike, is the head coach. In Denver, the brother of former head coach Josh McDaniels served as quarterbacks coach in 2009 and 2010.

The acceptance by some teams of nepotism in the coaching ranks possibly comes from the reality that, at the ownership level, nepotism has become an integral part of the long-term management of the business. But the spoils of holding equity in the club don’t necessarily extend to the men hired to coach the team, especially in a city like Nashville, where the lengthy list of club officials contained in the Record & Fact Book contains only one person named “Adams.”