Fisher, Nedney: Acting comment was just a joke

Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jeff Fisher doesn't think a joke by one of his players will taint the Tennessee Titans' overtime victory over Pittsburgh. But for anyone who still thinks kicker Joe Nedney faked a dive, Fisher is ready to put that notion to rest.

''He was hit, and he went down,'' Fisher said Monday. ''He didn't act out the part of a kicker being hit or not hit trying to draw attention to draw a flag. I think he regrets what he said, but I honestly believe that he was just joking around.''

Nedney cracked after the Titans' 34-31 victory Saturday night that he might consider acting when his career is over. Officials flagged Pittsburgh cornerback Dewayne Washington for running into Nedney and knocking him to the ground after he hooked a 31-yard field goal wide right.

''Look at the play, look at the foul, look at the contact and then take into consideration that he was joking,'' Fisher said. ''You can go back and look at every one of Joe's kicks in his career, and he's never been in a situation like that.''

The seven-year veteran wishes he wasn't there now.

Nedney fulfilled his dream of winning a playoff game with a field goal -- in overtime no less. But his attempt at comedy has resulted in a deluge of criticism that has kept him busy apologizing.

''For the integrity of the game, I probably shouldn't have said that,'' Nedney said. ''The situation and the scenario was so crazy. I don't know if you want to call it a momentary lapse of reason or a little temporary insanity. I spit it out, and there's nothing I can do about it.''

He wants to focus on the Oakland Raiders, the Titans' opponent Sunday in the AFC championship. He played three games for the Raiders in 1999, then was used briefly as an insurance policy for Sebastian Janikowski before being released in 2000.

But he spent Monday trying to ''extinguish fires all day,'' as he put it, when he still should be enjoying the thrill of redeeming himself on his third straight field-goal attempt in overtime.

Nedney missed a 48-yarder at the end of regulation that would have won the game. Quarterback Steve McNair gave him a rare second chance by driving the Titans down the field, but Pittsburgh called timeout just as Tennessee snapped the ball for a 31-yard field goal Nedney put through the uprights.

That set off fireworks even as officials announced it didn't count.

Nedney tried again, but hooked his second kick wide right. Washington ran around tight end Erron Kinney and slammed into Nedney's extended left leg, spinning him around to the ground.

It's not easy to knock down the 6-foot 5, 225-pound Nedney. He's one of NFL's two tallest kickers, along with Indianapolis' Mike Vanderjagt. He also was a receiver at Santa Teresa High in San Jose, Calif., until he punctured a lung in practice, forcing him to try kicking to avoid contact. This season, he had seven tackles on special teams and one against Pittsburgh.

''I pride myself on not being a small, frail, unathletic kicker,'' Nedney said. ''He got me down. I went down, and I got another chance. That's it.''

With the ball set for a 26-yarder, Nedney finally ended the game.

Nedney insists he has learned his lesson. No more jokes, just serious talk and concentration on a good performance Sunday that would give people something else to talk about.

''That's my goal -- to get everybody to forget this,'' he said.

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