The Titans franchise added some long overdue names to their Ring of Honor on Wednesday when they announced that the architects of their lone Super Bowl team – head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Floyd Reese – would be inducted this season.
Additionally, the organization also is inducting one of its most famous coaches and personalities into the Ring of Honor as well with the addition of former Houston Oilers O.A. “Bum” Phillips, who will be enshrined on Sept. 26.
Fisher became head coach of the then Oilers in 1994 and with the assistance of Reese as general manager not only helped the organization through its transition from Houston to Tennessee, but built a top contending team in the process. The rebranded Titans reached Super Bowl XXXIV at the conclusion of the 1999 season, and reached the AFC Championship Game after the 2002 campaign in making the postseason in four of five years from 1999-2003.
Fisher is the winningest coach in franchise history with 147 total victories (142 regular season, 5 postseason) over a 17-year span that ended in 2010.
“To be in a position where I took a call from Amy (Adams Strunk), and shared the conversation with her regarding the organization’s intention to put me into the Ring of Honor was just extraordinary,” said Fisher in a statement released by the club. “It was an emotional moment for me because it was a reminder of everything that the organization has done for me and my family over the years. It’s just really special. Football coaches are never overwhelmed emotionally, but it was a special moment. I think back to 1994, I had six games as an interim head coach, it was Floyd Reese and Bud Adams that believed in me and gave me that opportunity. From that day on to present day, I’m forever grateful and indebted to them for the opportunity. Twenty-plus years as a head coach in the National Football League doesn’t happen. It’s rare. I have no regrets. I owe everything to the Adams family because they gave me that opportunity. We’ve made Nashville – it’s always been our home. The whole Titans family has remained very, very close to us. Our affection for the organization has never wavered.”
Reese, who will be inducted into the Ring of Honor alongside Fisher at a date to be determined, made a number of shrewd draft picks that helped mold the Titans franchise into a top team. Those included Eddie George, Steve McNair, Jevon Kearse and Keith Bulluck.
“The way Amy explained it, this is one of the highest, if not the highest honor, that we could bestow on somebody that’s not in the NFL Hall of Fame,”said Reese, who worked for the organization for 21 years and served as GM from 1994-2006. “And so that kind of makes you realize that this is special. I know it is special too because there’s been so much time and effort that we put in – not just me, but Jeff, and everybody involved, I mean, for years and years and years. To have this come true for me is a special treat. It’s really an honor to go in with two guys that you were able to watch do their work, understand the kind of craft and effort they put into it, and see their success.”
Phillips was the coach of the Oilers in their heyday in Houston, the “Luv Ya Blue” era that featured such stars as Earl Campbell, Elvin Bethea and Dan Pastorini.
Under Phillips' guidance, the Oilers reached back-to-back AFC title games after the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Phillips was the Oilers' head coach for six seasons from 1975-81 and his 59-38 won-loss record gives him the highest win percentage (.608) of any coach in franchise history.
Strunk, the Titans controlling owner, spoke about the important contributions of each man.
“I am so excited to recognize these important figures in our team’s history,” said Adams Strunk. “Each had a significant hand in the success of their eras. Bum was Texas through and through and led us to new heights as the ‘Luv Ya Blue’ era was born, reaching two AFC Championship games.
“Jeff won more games than any coach in franchise history, while also leading our football team through some difficult years as we moved to Tennessee - playing in four different home stadiums over a four-year period. His ability to connect with our players and our fans was unmatched and he too reached two AFC Championship games and helped take us to our only Super Bowl.
“Floyd was a great position coach for us during our run of success during the Run ‘n Shoot years and then transitioned to the front office, where he found even greater success. He had a great ability to find talent and take ‘chances’ to find sustained success – hiring a first-time head coach in Jeff Fisher; selecting a Division I-AA quarterback, Steve McNair, in the top five of the draft; converting a first-round linebacker, Jevon Kearse, to defensive end; claiming a little used tight end, Frank Wycheck, from Washington; and trading down, then up to grab a Heisman-trophy-winning running back, Eddie George.”