When it comes to the firing of Rams coach Jeff Fisher and its aftermath, the second season of All or Nothing was closer to all than nothing. Still, as to the actual firing of Fisher, we got nothing.
NFL Films coordinating producer Keith Cossrow recently explained the omission of the actual Fisher firing from the eight-hour extravaganza.
“I think anyone who understands the nature of documentary filmmaking knows that it’s impossible to capture everything,” Cossrow told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. “You can have 10 cameras rolling 24/7 and you would still miss a thousand important moments. That’s just the nature of the beast. So I think the fact that [director] Shannon [Furman] and the crew were able to capture so much of what happened the day Coach Fisher was fired, and that no one ever told us to turn off the cameras once they were rolling, is an extraordinary achievement and a testament to the job they did in the field building trust with the team.”
It would have been obvious, however, if the cameras had turned off during the various meetings that happened as Fisher revealed his fate to coaches and players, and after Fisher made his exit. And people like me would now be pointing out that the Rams/NFL had restricted the process of capturing the tense, emotional, and chaotic moments that occur as a coach makes an unexpected exit.
So it’s hard to give the Rams and the league credit for not avoiding one of the obvious potential consequences of having cameras and microphones present for a full football season. And it’s even harder to simply shrug at the failure of the show to catch the defining moment of the season by saying “it’s impossible to capture everything.”
Indeed, inherent limitations to the filming process made it impossible to capture the firing of Fisher.
“We don’t have cameras in the coach’s office at all, and that’s one difference between Hard Knocks and All or Nothing,” Furman told Farmer. “After the Falcons game, Coach Fisher and [assistant head coach Dave McGinnis] were together on Monday morning, prepping for the Seattle game. They were in Coach Fisher’s office. I touched base with Coach Fisher, and then left to grab a smoothie for breakfast. I got a phone call from my production assistant who works the robotics cameras, and he asked, ‘How far away are you?’ I said, ‘I can be there in three minutes.’ He said, ‘Coach just told the staff he was fired.'”
In other words, if they’d had cameras in the coach’s office during All or Nothing — cameras that routinely document the firing of players during Hard Knocks — we may have seen the Fisher firing or, at a minimum, the moment when he got word to go to someone else’s office to get the news. And if the trust built with the Rams was truly significant, Kevin Demoff or someone else in upper management would have tipped someone off to the looming termination, allowing them to plan for covering it properly, up to and including lobbying to have a camera in the room where the firing took place.
As a result, the moment wasn’t expressly censored during or after the fact. The infrastructure of the show essentially pre-censored it.
Of course, that explanation doesn’t account for the failure of the show to mention that Fisher’s contract extension, which apparently had been signed months earlier and deliberately concealed from the public, was leaked and then announced not long before he was fired. Likewise, Cossrow’s explanation doesn’t address for the absence of any mention of the reports of internal dysfunction that emerged days before Fisher was fired or his subsequent vow to find the leaker.
None of this changes the fact that All or Nothing was, all in all, entertaining most of the time and flat-out compelling in certain key spots. But it could have been better. If enough people point that out this time around, maybe the next time they do the show it will be.