Heimerdinger illness casts pall over Titans

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
4:19
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A busy day at Titans practice was overshadowed by the terrible news Jeff Fisher had to deliver to his team and then to the media: Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been diagnosed with cancer and will undergo chemotherapy.

Heimerdinger is a crusty football guy with Illinois roots who helped boost Steve McNair to an MVP level quarterback in 2003, during his first stint as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Fisher said his coordinator’s been ill for several weeks.

Here’s the text of what Fisher told us after practice:
“Mike is very sick. And Mike is going to be, potentially as early as today, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment. I don’t know whether or not he’ll be back (Thursday) or whether he’ll be here inside the facility or whether or not he’ll be able to participate in coaching this game.”

“We are going to continue with the game plan. I will make sure this game will get called and the offense will be prepared. I just want everybody to keep Mike and his family in their prayers.”

“He’s been sick -- very sick -- for three weeks. We just got the news this morning.

“I don’t want to go into detail anymore than that. I think we owe it to Mike to allow him to enjoy some privacy with his family.”

“We’re going to do it by committee. Munch [offensive line coach Mike Munchak] is going to handle the run game; Dowell is going to handle the passing game and I’ll make sure the game is called appropriately.”

“One person will call the plays. In all likelihood it will be Dowell [Loggains, the quarterback coach], Dowell can handle it. He’s worked really closely with Mike directly in all installation phases. He’s worked directly with the quarterbacks. In all likelihood it will be him.”

“It’s life, you know. We have to deal with it and we have to move on. Not that we’re moving on from Mike. Mike’s on my heart; he’s been on my heart for weeks. What he’s done over the last couple weeks, considering how he’s felt, is absolutely remarkable. I mean, it’s remarkable. Then you add the events of the weekend to that and it doesn’t make sense. The Vince Young stuff is behind us. We’re going to move on, get ready to play a football game and our guys are going to play hard.”
“The players know. I informed them this morning, and they understand that they’re going to have to do a little bit extra. Everyone is going to have to do a little bit extra. Our focus is on winning the next game. That’s what we are 100 percent committed to do.”

I feel confident Fisher's feelings for Heimerdinger during a tough time have made the Young fiasco even more difficult to swallow and deal with.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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