People of Faith: Jeff Fisher
- Thursday, January 16, 2003
Juli was invited to her first Bible study by another coach's wife, and learned for the first time that she needed a personal relationship with Jesus. "Within a month, I had invited Jesus into my heart, " she says. Looking back, they realized that the jolt of being fired in Los Angeles set them up for this; it was the first time they 'd see the realities of God 's scorekeeping.
Nomads of the NFL
After two years in San Francisco, the Fisher family moved to Houston. Midway through the 1994 season, the Houston Oilers fired their head coach and gave the job to Jeff for the final six games. Despite winning only one of those six games, Jeff convinced ownership he was qualified to lead the team on a permanent basis and secured his first head-coaching job in January 1995.
Prior to the 1996 season, the team's owner entered into an agreement to move the Oilers from Houston to Nashville. Only the Lord knew what was in store for Jeff and the organization over the next four years. Before the Oilers could leave Houston, the team would play two more years in a town that no longer supported them.
In 1997, the team moved to Nashville, though the city had no stadium and the new Coliseum would take two years to complete. For the next two seasons, the "homeless" team played first at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, then in Nashville at Vanderbilt University's Dudley Stadium.
Considering the circumstances, the team displayed great effort and character while achieving an 8-8 record in both of those first two seasons in Nashville.
"I look back on those four years like we were the Israelites wandering in the desert," Juli says, quoting Deuteronomy 8:2: "'Remember how the Lord your God led all the way in the desert these 40 years to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart.' That was what was going on."
In 1999, they got a fresh start. For the first time in four years, the team was in its own stadium in a town that enthusiastically embraced it. Even so, during their family vacation before the start of that season, Jeff was faxed a newspaper article entitled "Playoffs or Pink slips," in which the team's owner stated that playoffs were a must or changes would be made.
"After everything we had been through and all Jeff had done to hold the team together, I was very disappointed," says Juli. "The Lord taught me a lot of things through that process, most of which was to trust in Him. It's never about me and what I can do. It's about Him working through me during that time of testing."
For Jeff, though, it was a time of merely continuing to walk on the path he knew would someday lead to success. "I had confidence in the players and the staff," he says. "I knew it was eventually going to work out. Any changes would only suggest that I didn't believe in our winning philosophy."
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