After his Tennessee Titans shredded the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-3 last night in Jacksonville, Titans Coach Jeff Fisher was asked during a postgame press conference why he wasn’t more proactive in running out the clock at the end of the game.
(Video of Fisher comments: Joking?)
In his response Fisher claimed, with what appeared to be a straight face, that ESPN had asked both teams at the end of the game to take their timeouts in order to allow the network to air more commercial spots.
“(Jaguars Coach) Jack (Del Rio) used his timeouts. My understanding is they (ESPN) needed network timeouts, and that’s why Jack used his timeouts. They came over and asked me to do it, but I said, ‘I was hoping to get a first down and kneel on it.’
“You can check with Jack. I believe that they asked them to use them. It’s the first time I’ve heard of it. I just said I would have a hard time using them, because I’m ahead. Honestly, I have no issues with Jack or how he managed the end of that game.”
Del Rio took back-to-back timeouts after the two-minute warning with his Jags down 23-3. Del Rio has yet to comment why he took the timeouts but is scheduled to meet the media again tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Fisher has reportedly backtracked on his seemingly serious stance.
Gene Frenette of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION in Jacksonville Tweeted Tuesday:
ESPN did not ask coaches to take timeouts. Fisher said that in jest, according to our reporter who was in production trucks.
Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com - via Doug Farrar of FootballOutsiders.com - also reported Fisher’s about-face on the subject.
Fisher confirmed those reports in an interview on WIP-AM in Philadelphia Monday afternoon - at least about himself - when he was asked if ESPN contacted him about timeouts.
“No, ESPN didn’t. Basically what happens at two-minute warning, the NFL gives you the status of TV, and with commercials they said we’re two behind.
“When I was asked about coach Del Rio’s use of time outs at the end of the game, I mentioned in the press conference later that they may have connected the dots, or it may have been Jack giving the QB some more time to figure out another play.
“ESPN never came to me and said to call a timeout.”
What we learned today: Jeff Fisher’s wit apparently is so dry you can test for land speed records on it.
When contacted today about Fisher’s initial remarks, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told me that the network “did not ask either team to take a timeout.” Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS Journal also noted another similarly official ESPN response on the topic: “ESPN did not directly or indirectly ask the coaches to take a timeout.”
But why then did Del Rio burn two timeouts late in the game with his team down 23-3? Whatever the reason, we’ll soon find out from the Jags coach.
So was this a case of art imitating life?
I don’t know if I’ll ever be convinced that it wasn’t.