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Friday night, less than two days removed from his team's biggest game of the season, Jeff Fisher will leave the Titans' headquarters in Nashville and head 135 miles southeast to Chattanooga. There, he will surrender all claims to being the football big shot in the family, and watch his son, Brandon, try to help Montana beat Richmond for the Division I national championship.
(It still sounds more natural as Division I-AA, doesn't it? But we call it what the NCAA calls it, the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Montana won titles in 1995 and 2001.)
Brandon is a junior linebacker for the Grizzlies.
I heard a bit of radio debate this week about Jeff Fisher missing Titans time for Wyoming's semifinal win in Virginia last week -- assistants Dave McGinnis and Chuck Cecil joined him on that trip -- and for this game. The coach has not shuffled the team's schedule for either game -- Friday late afternoons and evenings tend to be some of the rare downtime built into a standard NFL week.
Earlier this week, he was more open about Brandon than I expected with a few of us who are around the Titans regularly.
How special is this as a parent?
Jeff Fisher: It's really a neat deal. Knowing when he decided to attend the University of Montana, and knowing that they were very competitive, the hope somewhere along the line was that he'd get a chance to play here in Chattanooga, and I think the fact that it's here in the home state a few hours away makes it even more special.
Do you get more nervous for his games than yours?
JF: Yes, clearly. You can't control anything.
How has Brandon evolved as a player there?
JF: He came in there as a long-snapper and got hurt. He's battled through injuries over the last couple years. He's got three plates in his body and he's moved from safety to outside linebacker and he's battling and he's hanging in there. I'm proud to watch him play.
How's his playing style compared to your when you played at USC?
JF: I was outside, I was a wideside corner. I was a converted wide receiver. He's more of an in-the-box, rough-and-tumble kind of guy.
Did he get his defensive genes from you?
JF: You know, ever since he was little he kind of liked to run into things.
How much have you coached him over the years?
JF: We share a lot as far as his games and my games and each upcoming opponents and responsibilities and things like that. You know, as a parent someone gave me the advice a long time ago, they said "Don't mold them, help them unfold." So never have I said, "C'mon, let's go outside." I've said, "I'm here if you want me to." They could take advantage of it. I don't know if they listen.
Montana's got some star-power kid pull: Sophomore safety Houston Stockton's father is NBA great John Stockton.