When Jeff Fisher left his job with the Tennessee Titans in late January after 16 full seasons as head coach, plans for his annual celebrity softball game were already in motion.
"You have to do things in advance so we committed to it," Fisher said. "When things went the way they did in January, it was obvious to me I wanted to continue with it."
Saturday night's event, in its 11th year, was billed as Fisher's "Final Farewell," and as Fisher signed autographs before the game, the more than 5,000 fans in attendance -- including Fisher's mom, Janette, and sons Brandon and Tren -- gave him a standing ovation.
"Everything on and off the field Jeff has done for the city of Nashville, people are going to remember and they are always going to hold a special place in their hearts for him," quarterback Kerry Collins told the *Tennessean.* "But I think the vice versa is true. Jeff really holds this place dear and he raised his kids here. There will always be a special relationship with Jeff and the community."
That community had kind words for Fisher on Saturday.
"'We're going to miss you' and 'thanks for the memories,'" Fisher recounted as fans came up to talk to him. "I've been fortunate to have had a chance to put a smile on the faces of so many people."
Mike Munchak has taken over as coach of the Titans, but Fisher is expected to have his pick of jobs if he decides to return to the sideline. He remains a nonvoting adviser to the NFL's competition committee but said he isn't thinking of his next job now.
"That's going to be a January thing. That's next year. I don't think much about it. I don't pay much attention to it," Fisher said of the NFL.
For now he's enjoying being able to rest and do whatever he wants after either playing or coaching football the past 25 years. Hunting and fishing and watching his youngest son play for Auburn this fall are in his plans.
"First time I've had a spring, a summer, a fall. I've not seen Montana in the fall, so I'm going to do a lot of that stuff," Fisher said.
"Regardless of what happens in the future, I'm going to continue with my role in the community. I'm going to keep a home here."
The softball game at Greer Stadium benefited the Wounded Warrior's Project, the Nashville Children's Alliance and Mercy Ministries among others. Fisher said three of the four men from the Wounded Warrior's Project that he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with in May were scheduled to attend, while 500 tickets were provided to families from Fort Campbell.
"What you miss is the players, and that's what's important because it's the players, it's the personalities, it's their hearts," Fisher said. "This is a chance for fans to come out and see them in a really relaxed environment and just kind of enjoy the moment."
Former players scheduled to take part included Eddie George, Frank Wycheck, Brad Hopkins and Kevin Dyson along with current players including Derrick Mason, Kerry Collins, Pro Bowl returner Marc Mariani, Dave Ball, Cortland Finnegan and Michael Roos.
"He's been a fixture in my life the last 15 years," said Mason, who played 6 seasons under Fisher before joining the Ravens as a free agent in 2005. "Guys came back for this because they love him. I don't think too many coaches, once they leave, have guys come back and show how much they appreciate him. I know I wasn't going to miss this."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.