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Rams get their man, Fisher gets his gig, but it's not all clean

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider

Jeff Fisher did what he had to do to get the most money and power -- nothing wrong with that. (Getty Images)  
Jeff Fisher did what he had to do to get the most money and power -- nothing wrong with that. (Getty Images)  

Jeff Fisher will deny this but it's true and it's sad.

Fisher played the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins against one another for more cash, several league sources say. Played both like fiddles. Stradivarius. The Rams won, and Fisher is headed to St. Louis.

Fisher pushed each franchise for more power and money, these sources said, despite a report to the contrary. He insisted on the ultimate say in personnel decisions, and while I don't know exactly what he got, it seems as if he'll get it, or close to it, in St. Louis.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a millionaire trying to get more money from billionaires. Capitalism is the American way. But Fisher attempted to cleverly deny this by leaking (or having people close to him leak) to ESPN that he wasn't trying to do any of this. He was just good ol' Jeff Fisher, cool dude, chillin', waiting for one of these rascally teams to make up their minds.

Golly gee, come to a decision so the Jeffster can get to molding these men into champions!

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The Rams got a good coach. Not a great coach, but a solid one who will unspectacularly restore the franchise to a respectable level and beyond. Fisher will make the Rams a factor again. That's the best hope for fans. Become a factor and see what happens. Get to nine wins and then 10 and then see what happens. Small steps followed by big ones. Hopefully.

Yet during this entire borderline pathetic pursuit of Fisher, it was Fisher who lost a little piece of himself. I think he started to believe his press clippings a little too much. People like me and others wrote he was the best of this head coaching class. It got to Fisher, and he began to think he was Vince Lombardi and started asking for Lombardi cash and power when, again, Fisher has been good, but he's more Jim Fassel than Lombardi.

The leak from Fisher, er, his agent, er, his camp, er, all of the above to ESPN was recognition that Fisher was getting a little arrogant and greedy. Again, coaches have a right to ask for the moon. They get hired and fired rapidly. Just don't tell me you're an average Joe while acting like the Earl of Dorincourt.

If a player behaved this way, fans would be outraged. The only thing missing from the Fisher spectacle was Jim Gray, with Fisher saying he was taking his talents to St. Louis.

Fisher has always portrayed himself as Everyman -- the former player who worked hard and rose to head coach. A lot of that is true. He's a good guy ... who got caught up in the hype of being one the most pursued coaches in recent NFL history.

Fisher learned from his Tennessee experience, when the immature Vince Young was pushed on him. Fisher didn't want Young (and his concerns would be proven correct) and I think that entire episode made Fisher extremely cautious when it came to power. Again, understandable.

Fisher just can't have it both ways. He can't try to be the common-man coach while also playing two franchises against the other -- as league officials say and common sense indicates -- to get maximum bucks and clout. Profootballtalk.com stated it well: It's truly strange.

A Dolphins source told me: "Fisher used us." Well, yeah, no joke. He was playing one side against the other. He was negotiating, he was leveraging. Despite his denials.

And, again, to be perfectly clear, that's fine. It was just unseemly to try to leak and be deceptive about his intentions.

Fisher is a good coach and a good person. He'll turn the Rams around. It's just the way he handled getting the job was a tad unseemly.

Jeff Fisher will deny this, but it's true and it's sad.


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