Jeff Fisher’s move of wearing a Peyton Manning jersey to a charity event was still a hot topic on Wednesday, but the coach tried to downplay any after effects.
After explaining that he was simply trying to have some fun with the introduction of Tony Dungy at a fund-raiser for Rocketown and bring “some levity to the situation” regarding his 0-6 team, Fisher bristled when asked if he considered the timing of the move less than 48 hours after a 59-0 thrashing by the New England Patriots on Sunday.
“I think I’ve said enough about it, and if you want to make more about it, you can go ahead and be as critical as you want to be,” Fisher said. “I’ve said enough about it. I was simply having fun, and in retrospect, if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would do the same thing.”
Reaction to the stunt was mixed, but the majority sided with Fisher in the matter.
At least one Titans player was not amused by the decision.
“I don’t know. He said it was a joke. Funny. Whatever. It was for charity,” linebacker Keith Bulluck said.
Bulluck said Fisher explained his actions to the team.
“He’s our head coach. He doesn’t have to explain himself, but he did,” Bulluck said. “If people found it funny, then it’s funny whatever. Of course, it doesn’t sit well with everyone, but it doesn’t matter what we think. It’s one of those situations that you don’t necessarily comment on.”
Bulluck was asked if he would ever wear a Manning jersey.
“I feel like a winner anytime I put a No. 53 jersey on, so no, not at all,” the veteran linebacker said.
Fisher said the gesture was all in fun, and that moping around in the Titans’ situation is not something he will do.
“If anyone has ever heard me speak and do things, I try to capture the audience’s attention,” Fisher said. “I did that out of respect for Tony and everybody there. I think it went over very well. If anybody was offended by it, I can’t help that. I’m not gonna walk around here 0-6 with my tail between my legs. That’s just not my nature. It’s OK to have a sense of humor and have some fun.”
Tight end Bo Scaife was supportive, and said his college coach Mack Brown at Texas wouldn’t be immune to trying such a stunt.
“Coach explained it to us, and I definitely understand what he was doing,” Scaife said.. We support Coach Fisher with everything he does 100 percent. He’s a good guy, he knows what he’s doing. He’s been at this a long time. I don’t think anyone is worried about it except you guys.
“Coach Brown might do something like that. Coach Brown is a great talker, and he knows how to bring all that stuff up.”
Running back LenDale White declined comment on the Fisher jersey matter, but did say he would never don a rival jersey of his alma mater, Southern California.
“I hate UCLA. We hate UCLA and we hate Notre Dame. You will never, I don’t care if Joe Montana paid me, I’m not putting that Notre Dame jersey on,” White said.
Several players said didn’t even know about the situation until Fisher addressed it with the team on Wednesday.
“To me, I heard about it this morning, and it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t feel one way or the other about it,” defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said.
Defensive end Jevon Kearse, who had his own turn in the spotlight for leaving as a healthy scratch before the Titans played the Colts two weeks ago, agreed.
“I guess he was just having fun. I didn’t hear about it until he said something about it today. He can wear what he wants to wear. That’s him,” Kearse said. “We saw it as he was doing something for Tony Dungy, and that’s one of Tony Dungy’s guys. I guess he was trying to lighten up the mood or something.”
Kearse was asked his reaction to Fisher’s line about wanting “to feel like a winner,” and was surprised by that part.
“I didn’t catch that part, but I know this week since it’s our bye week, we can’t lose this week,” he said.