Former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger died, losing his battle with cancer Friday night. He was 58.
Heimerdinger was diagnosed with cancer last year midway through the 2010 season. He remained as offensive coordinator with the Titans throughout the season, even though he was undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
Heimerdinger was not retained by new coach Mike Munchak earlier this year after Munchak replaced Jeff Fisher as head coach.
“My prayers are with his family. Mike was a great football coach; and over the years, we had a great relationship,” Munchak said. “I learned a lot of football from Mike and I have a number of great memories and experiences that will always be with me. It is just hard to believe he is gone. It is a sad day for his family and for those who knew him.”
Heimerdinger had two different stints as the Titans offensive coordinator, first from 2000-04 before departing for a similar job with the New York Jets. He stayed one season there before returning to the Denver Broncos, but came back for a return engagement with the Titans in 2008 and helped the team to a 13-3 record that season.
“Mike was a good man that brought a great level of dedication and professionalism to his job. He was brave in his fight over the last year and showed such a commitment to the game,” general manager Mike Reinfeldt said. “Nothing was going to stop him last season from being a part of the team and having his stamp on the games. Our thoughts go out to Kathie and his kids through this difficult time. Mike and his family will always be with us.”
Other highlights included his work with quarterback Steve McNair, whom he helped mold into the NFL's co-Most Valuable Player in 2003.
Many current and former Titans praised Heimerdinger for his dedication and skills as a coach and his spirit as he fought against cancer.
“You don’t expect these types of things to happen and they shouldn’t happen. I felt confident that he was going to beat this after seeing his resolve last season in dealing with it,” tackle Michael Roos said. “He was such a competitor and a fighter – the things that made him such a good coach were also the traits that I thought would lead him to beat the cancer. My prayers are with his family.”
Added former Titans running back Eddie George, “Any time you lose a friend, you feel it. My heart goes out to his family, it is a terrible loss. Mike was a highly competitive coach and person, who expected and demanded nothing but the best from you. He was a good guy to be around and he will surely be missed in this world.”