Dinger’s battle inspires ex-pros
Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 9:07 pm
By: By TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer
FRANKLIN (AP) — Mike Heimerdinger said he was surprised when members of the Tennessee chapter of the NFL Alumni wanted to dedicate this year’s annual golf fundraiser in his name for the American Cancer Society.
He also sees it as quite an honor.
“It was easy to say yes because you get to make some money for cancer and raise for a good cause,” the former Titans offensive coordinator said Monday.
The links event — near Nashville — at the Legends Club had plenty of star power too.
Heimerdinger’s former boss, Jeff Fisher, partnered with him as they took turns playing with each group, and former Titans like Eddie George, left tackle Brad Hopkins and punter Craig Hentrich turned out along with current players like kicker Rob Bironas among 150 golfers.
Heimerdinger, 58, was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving with a rare cancer. Tennessee extended his contract through 2011, and he kept working through the rest of the Titans’ 6-10 season.
When Fisher left the team in late January, new Titans coach Mike Munchak fired Heimerdinger in February to bring in his own staff.
Al Smith is president of the Tennessee chapter of the NFL Alumni. The charity changes each year, and picking the American Cancer Society was an easy decision after Heimerdinger was diagnosed last November with cancer. Heimerdinger has not shared exactly what type of cancer he has,only saying that it has such a long name he can’t remember it.
“The fact he battled through still coaching through it all and showing the perseverance and determination and overcoming the disease, we thought it would be good to benefit something that resonated with him,” Smith said.
Fisher said it was great to be part of this event in honor of his close friend’s battle and see so many of his former players.
“Mike and I have spent quite a bit of time together,” Fisher said. “It’s a one day at a time thing for him, and it’s great to get him out here.”
Heimerdinger said he’s doing just fine. The hair he had a trainer shave off last December has grown back, though now mostly gray.
“If I have treatment, obviously it knocks everything out of you. Then it takes me a few days to get back. I had treatment last weekend. I’m doing good now. Keeping me skinny. It’s a hell of a way to go on a diet, but otherwise it’s good,” Heimerdinger said.
Heimerdinger said he has three weeks off now from treatment with probably three more rounds to go.
George hadn’t seen Heimerdinger in a while and joked his old coordinator was a little upset at feeling like a noodle without his usual strength, especially on the golf course.
“I said, ‘Hey man, trust your technique.’ He said, ‘I didn’t have technique. That’s why I relied on my power.’ But he’s in good spirits. It’s good to see that he’s quintessential Mike. I definitely feel like he’s going to beat this thing. If anybody can go through this, it’s definitely Mike Heimerdinger. I’m just happy to see him alive, well and in good spirits.”
The fundraiser didn’t stop on the course.
A silent auction also featured a variety of items including 2012 Masters tickets, signed pictures by Chris Johnson and Jay Cutler, autographed helmets from Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton and the 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram to autographed jerseys from John Elway and Peyton Manning.