Fisher: Volek lied to him, repeatedly asked to be traded

Updated: September 20, 2006, 11:18 PM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Coach Jeff Fisher lashed out at critics of the Tennessee Titans' dealings with Billy Volek, saying Wednesday that Volek lied to him and never took advantage of the opportunity to be the starter.

The Titans finally traded Volek on Tuesday to the San Diego Chargers for a sixth-round draft pick that could become a fifth-rounder depending on playing time. Fisher said Volek asked to be traded the day the Titans signed Kerry Collins late last month.

"I never at anytime in my career have gone into such detail (about a trade). But I felt the responsibility, as Billy felt he was thrown under the bus," Fisher said. "Billy threw this organization under the bus, along with a number of his teammates."

It was unprecedented public criticism by Fisher, who repeatedly has protected his players.

Volek inherited the quarterback job when the Titans traded Steve McNair to Baltimore in June, and Fisher claimed it was in the first week after Volek was made the starter during the offseason that the quarterback lied to the coach.

Fisher wouldn't say what the lie was.

"He was untruthful with me, untruthful with his head coach, about where he was and what he was doing. So we started off on the wrong page there, and that did not sit well with me," Fisher said.

Fans have been vehemently critical of the Titans for not giving Volek the chance to start the season, and the team is 0-2 with Collins as a starter.

Fisher said he met with Volek in his office Tuesday and was told the quarterback had no hard feelings.

Volek told several reporters on his way to the airport that he got a raw deal and didn't know why he went from starter to third-stringer before the season.

"He felt compelled to set a record straight, which is not accurate," Fisher said. "His record and his comments were not accurate."

Fisher said Volek was told he was the starter and that Collins was brought in for his experience and to create competition with Volek. But Fisher said Volek came to his office and went to general manager Floyd Reese the same day asking to be traded.

The coach also charges that Volek never took advantage of his opportunities once told he was the starter.

"There's a difference between assuming a role as a starter and a backup role. There's a distinct difference between those two positions. In the club's opinion based on what transpired, he was not suited to be the starter," Fisher said.

Volek was enjoying what he called a good start Wednesday in his first practice with the Chargers. He said Fisher's comments surprised him and he had no clue why his former coach would say such things.

But he added he had been competing for the starting spot.

"If he wants to say that, he's going to say that," Volek said. "I'm not going to stand up here and argue with him. He's been a great coach for me for six years. When you're losing, when you're 0-2, every little small bruise turns into a large bruise."

For now, the Titans have only Collins and rookie Vince Young on the roster going into Sunday's game at Miami (0-2).

Matt Mauck was signed Wednesday to the practice squad after spending most of last season on the roster. Fisher said they have needs at other positions, which is why they'll stay with only two quarterbacks. But Mauck can be elevated at anytime by signing a contract.

If Collins is hurt during a game, that leaves the Titans with only Young, who has played in spot duty the first two weeks.

Collins must improve after posting a 1.3 passer rating in last week's 40-7 loss at San Diego, and he called the Titans' quarterback soap opera life in the NFL.

"It's a great game, but it can be a tough business. That's the bottom line. Is it always fair? No. I played in New York five years, went to the playoffs two times, they sent me on my merry way. What're you going to do? I mean, move on," Collins said.

Linebacker Keith Bulluck said the quarterback situation has hurt the Titans more on the field than in the locker room.

"You never know who we're going with or which way it's going," Bulluck said. "That's the only way I would say."

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Associated Press writer Bernie Wilson contributed to this story.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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