NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The atmosphere was so cordial at the Titans' headquarters Friday it was hard to tell that Jeff Fisher was leaving the team.
He stood behind the podium thanking everyone in the building before leaving with a wave. Tennessee's top executives expressed their gratitude for his work over the years, then discussed how they will replace Fisher after mutually agreeing they had reached a point where "it was time to move on" after 16 full seasons.
"It is just time for a change," owner Bud Adams said Friday by telephone from his Houston office.
Fisher declined to address details about the decision, but acknowledged some differences with the team. He also looked much more relaxed Friday morning than in weeks, calling it the best decision after two difficult seasons.
The Titans rebounded from an 0-6 start to finish 8-8 in 2009, then wasted a 5-2 start in 2010 by losing eight of the final 10 games for a 6-10 record.
"I've been coaching for 25 years, and it's time. I need a break," Fisher said. "And I think timing-wise this is a perfect opportunity to do this so the organization can move forward with their plan, and I'll move forward with whatever happens in the future."
The team announced the split Thursday night, shocking players, assistant coaches and the rest of the NFL because Adams announced three weeks ago he'd decided to keep Fisher for the final year of his contract. Adams said teams and coaches unfortunately almost always reach a point where change is the best option.
"I believe both the team and Jeff will benefit in the long run from this move. Now I'm still confident about our future. I think we have good players. I believe in Steve Underwood and [General Manager] Mike Reinfeldt to find our next head coach."
The search to replace Fisher is already under way. Reinfeldt and Underwood, the senior executive vice president, will handle the process whose only timetable is "as long as it takes." Underwood said reports of the coach's settlement at $8 million were "erroneous" while declining to answer questions about the package.
Among the four major U.S. sports, only Jerry Sloan with the NBA's Utah Jazz has been with the same team longer than Fisher had been with the Titans. At 13 years, Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff now ranks second. Andy Reid of Philadelphia now takes over as the NFL's longest-tenured coach having finished up his 12th season with the Eagles.
Fisher could coach again this season. A team executive noted that's up to Fisher, but the coach wouldn't speculate when asked if he might work on television for a season.
Union: Injuries increase
NEW YORK -- The NFL players union says the average number of injuries has risen during the 2010 season.
In a report released Friday called "Dangers of the Game of Football," the NFLPA says injuries increased from 3.2 to 3.7 per week per team and the share of players injured increased to 63 percent compared to a 2002-09 average of 59 percent.
The report also shows that 13 percent of all injuries required players to be placed on injured reserve this season, compared to an average of 10 percent for 2002-09. The union says that indicates the injuries which are occurring are more serious than in past years.
The analysis is based on data from NFL Weeks 1 through 16 from Football Outsiders, which compiles information from the publicly available weekly injury reports.