Showdowns happen all the time in football. It's a team game, yes, but it's one based on individual matchups — on and off the field.
Think about some of the best matchups this season. The on-field ones have been disappointments for the most part.
Aaron Rodgers dominated Brett Favre twice. Donovan McNabb vs. Michael Vick ended in injury and disappointment the first time and was a total whitewash the second. Peyton Manning dominated little brother Eli in Week Two. Not much fun there. Even Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, though very entertaining, fell way short of epic with three Manning picks.
But now think about some of the best off-field matchups this season. Favre vs. Brad Childress. (Or Randy Moss vs. Childress, or Zygi Wilf vs. Childress, it goes on and on.) Favre vs. Jenn Sterger. Albert Haynesworth vs. Mike Shanahan. McNabb vs. Shanahan. James Harrison vs. Roger Goodell. It goes on.
And Week 11 highlighted a showdown to be. As in the three-way battle royale that is due to ensue this offseason.
In one corner, Jeff Fisher. In the other, Vince Young. Overseeing the event, owner Bud Adams.
It's hard to imagine all three coming out of the ring together on the same team next season.
Here's the background: Jeff Fisher wanted no part of Vince Young. Adams, a Houston native like the Texas quarterback, wanted every part of Young. And being the owner, Adams got who he wanted.
Fisher did his best, making excuses for Young, who has given enough glimpses, however brief, of his rare talents to keep people thinking he'll one day be a star.
Now let's talk about the now. Unless Young grows up and takes his job seriously and less like a well-paid hobby, he will never be any better. And he might be worse. If you were to ask Fisher and his life depended on telling the truth, he'd probably say that it's not going to happen. Of course, almost everyone said that about Michael Vick, but the more complete statement from Fisher might be: "It's not going to happen in Tennessee with me as coach."
That's it. That's the bottom line. Fisher has reached the brim. He has given Young a fair shot now, five years. Little has changed. He has wavered back and forth between commitment and selfishness. If he's going to go through a Vick-like rebirth, it will have to be after Young has fallen hard. And likely in an NFL city.
Adams says the QB and coach need to get along. Both are under contract next season, he says, so let's make this work. But if you want a preview of who Adams will side with in this tussle, reread his comments from The Tennessean story on Monday. He basically explains Young's behavior, saying how emotional the QB was. He rationalizes. Both of their hearts lie in Texas, and admitting defeat with one of your homeboys can prove to be very tough. Adams, 87, wants to see this thing work before it's too late.
Fisher has to know this. It's why he reinforced his stance of benching Young, thumb injury or not. It's why he reportedly sent Young home, banning him from the facility on Monday. He can run the show his way, and it will not involve Young. And not just this season.
I believe Fisher will find a way out of his contract and look elsewhere. The Panthers will need a coach. The Vikings might. Even with Jason Garrett winning people over, the Cowboys might too if Fisher is available. There will be a handful of other jobs out there. Fisher would be at the top of many of them. Or he could step aside for a year, do the media thing or play golf, and let his value steep, the way it has with Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden. Those guys are even more in demand than before.
Finding a job won't be the problem. Finding a way to make it work with Young will be. This showdown will end with one of those men walking away in some form or fashion.