NFL Films explains omission of Jeff Fisher’s firing from All or Nothing

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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.

16 responses to “NFL Films explains omission of Jeff Fisher’s firing from All or Nothing

  1. No chance they show a coach in a GM’s or Executive Vice President’s office getting the bad news… just not going to happen.

  2. Go back to Chad Johnson getting cut by the Dolphins. Showing THAT moment borders on macabre. What is the value of seeing someone get whacked? That crosses the line form documentation to voyeurism. The response to being wounded ought to be more interesting to a viewer than seeing the moment of wounding.

    Look at the guys when FIsher tells them he got fired. They all know that they just got fired, too. YOu want the moment when they know they are the walking dead? There it is. Fifteen of them. Enjoy that bloodletting.

  3. I figured they were looking to do a separate special: The Firing of Jeff Fisher. Do a 2 or 3 hour event, like the LeBron thing…

  4. If you’re going to show players getting their release, you need to show everyone getting released. Coaches, GM, you name it.

    Personally, I like to think they didn’t show it because Fisher cried like a little baby. But, I suspect it barely registered, because he had to know he was going to be canned, right? I mean, year after year of mediocrity. Wasn’t it obvious, they hired him, and kept him, just because he had moved a team before?

  5. “Look at the guys when FIsher tells them he got fired. They all know that they just got fired, too. YOu want the moment when they know they are the walking dead? There it is. Fifteen of them. Enjoy that bloodletting.”

    I agree, to a point. But think of all the times that the cameras were on when the players are being released. You mentioned one of them, but there are many more. If the cameras were there and weren’t allowed to roll that’s hypocritical.

  6. This point of view makes absolutely no sense. If I’m firing someone, I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to make sure it is caught on camera. Just the opposite. If I have any shred of decency, I am going to make sure that the moment remains private. After working with Fisher for years, I’m sure the team wanted to protect his privacy as much as possible.

    To believe that the team should have tipped off the camera’s to the firing in advance is a position that can only be held by someone that needs to work on their people skills.

    Remember the golden rule…

  7. Its a tough position for a film maker to be in, I suppose. You desperately want the footage of something like Fisher being fired, yet you know you will never get that kind of access.

    The league, when it comes to shows like Hard Knocks or All or Nothing (I have never seen AoN) likes to push it as its all about the competition/players. That’s all good, to a point.

    They need to understand (acknowledge is maybe be a better word here?) that people want to see the inner working of the team, execs, coaching staff, etc in there as well – look at the Bill Belichick: A Football Life show – Thats was AWESOME.

    More of that, less of the predictable stuff imo. Maybe these film makers should learn how to buff the egos of someone like Jerry Jones – that might get them the access they want/desire.

  8. I don’t get the obsession with witnessing the moment Fisher gets fired. Especially considering the outrage people had when Hard Knocks showed players getting cut. Asking to show coaches getting canned just because we saw players getting cut is small-time thinking. There’s no reason to see the moment somebody gets fired.

  9. Yeah, well we are all tempted to look at a car crash, but in the end really shouldn’t anyhow.

  10. I dig it more than hard knocks because it shows us the inner-workings of the team during the actual season with players who actually make the team and not making fan favorites out of a bunch of jamokes that are currently working at foot locker.

    It also shows much more in-game footage and sometimes even some strategy analysis.

    I wasn’t crazy about season one because Arians is constantly passing the blame onto his players and talking trash. He is like a Rex Ryan who has just won a bit more consistently. And at least Ryan takes the bullet for his players.

    Season two was great though, and given that the Rams were also on HK, it’s easy to make a side-by-side comparison of the two shows. HK may have done it first, but AoN does it better.

  11. I have seen better reasoning for ommitting it being suggested in the comments above than what the team and NFL went with. Even when they have a reasonable answer it doesnt occur to them because they so quickly and automatically start working to make up a narrative.

  12. “a position that can only be held by someone that needs to work on their people skills”

    Eh, with some of these NFL owners, it’s a possibility…

  13. Upper management probably didn’t want it on tape. If they wanted it on tape, it’d be on tape.

    Considering it’s not, they chose the venue to avoid it being on tape. If there were a camera in the coach’s office, they probably would’ve taken Fish somewhere else where the cameras weren’t and done their business there.

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