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Fisher A Difference Maker Among Packers And Their Fans


It's understandable for NFL fans to forget about a running back that is number three on their favorite team's depth chart. It's also not out of the question to pay little attention to a player that went undrafted and had to do all he could do just to crack a roster spot.

Yet, if you asked his teammates, coaches or fans, running back Tony Fisher should be anything but a forgotten man. Fisher is many things -- versatile, dependable and smart -- but make no mistake about it, he's not forgotten.

At first glance the services of Fisher may go unnoticed by more than a few people. After all, his stat line certainly doesn't jump off the page at you and it's not as if he draws a lot of attention as a third down back and special teams performer. Simply put, Fisher often can go unrecognized on a team with stars like Brett Favre, Ahman Green and Darren Sharper.

However, Fisher may be one of the most well rounded players at 1265 Lombardi Avenue.

There just isn't much that the 6-1, 222-pound Fisher can't do. Whether it's catching passes out of the backfield or hustling down on the special teams units, Fisher is a jack-of-all-trades player. If Fisher were to miss a game or go down for an extended amount of time it would take more than one player to fill his shoes.

How many teams can say that about a third-team running back? While most teams may not even use the services of that player, the Packers count on Fisher week in and week out. The third-year man out of Notre Dame is the perfect example of a player who does all the little things, yet helps out in a huge way.

If you need a first down on third and long, Fisher is the running back to call on and in a recent win against Dallas, he unleashed yet another skill. This time, Fisher was on the passing end of an eight-yard touchdown strike to Bubba Franks.

To get an even better idea of what he lends to the Packers on a consistent basis, consider that Fisher is among the team leaders in receptions and special teams tackles. When Najeh Davenport was sidelined earlier in the season, Fisher served as Ahman Green's primary backup.

Certainly, the story of Tony Fisher is a unique one. After starring in high school, he was voted as Ohio's Mr. Football. His intelligence in the classroom coupled with his football credentials landed him a spot at Notre Dame. While there, Fisher graduated with B.A. degrees in economics and computer applications and also had a productive football career for the Fighting Irish. However, he slipped through the cracks and went undrafted.

The Packers gave Fisher an opportunity to earn a roster spot and although he's now an established NFL player, it doesn't change the way he goes about things.

"I look back on it and I think it was one of those things that actually made me work harder," Fisher said. "I mean I actually had no choice because not too many people that are undrafted make the team, but the coaches here gave me an opportunity and I have been able to take advantage of everything."

Fisher has taken advantage of his opportunity and then some. The fact that he battled all odds is something that makes Fisher very proud, especially considering the places he's achieved that success.

"The fact that I got to play at Notre Dame and actually being able to play here with the Packers are both big achievements," Fisher said. "To be able to play for two storied traditions has been a great opportunity for me. Not many people get the opportunity to play in both places like I have."

Perhaps the most surprising aspect to Fisher's story is that he never played special teams while at Notre Dame. In order to make the Packers roster he had to learn on the fly, but it's safe to say that Fisher has made that transition almost seamlessly.

"It was an adjustment for me but when you are young that's one of those things that keeps you around, the ability to play special teams," Fisher said. "It's kind of fun being out there on so many special teams.

"It's one of those things you have to have a little knack for, you've got to actually want to go out there and do it. If you don't want to go out there and do it, you aren't going to be successful at it."

Off course, special teams aren't the only area in which Fisher excels. Along with Green and Najeh Davenport, he is a vital part of perhaps the most talented halfback trio in the NFL. When you throw in fullbacks William Henderson and Nick Luchey, Fisher has a role in what is possibly the best entire backfield in the league.

With a stable of great backs, one might wonder how the Packers keep everybody content, but Fisher said the answer is simple.

"The key is that people are not being selfish," Fisher explained. "I think Najeh and I both know that Ahman is the starter and the opportunities are tough for both of us. With the fullbacks, they have a system that goes, too, just like ours. It just works because a lot of people believe in each other and they're not selfish.

"There are no egos amongst any of us. Everybody gets along well on and off the field. We've gotten to be like a family over here, so that's a good thing. It could be very easy to have egos, but that's not the case for us."

Although Fisher is happy with his role, he admits that he thinks about someday being an NFL starter.

"I would like to think that I would be," Fisher said. "Obviously I want to be a starter but right now I have to wait my turn and when the opportunity comes, hopefully it will be the best opportunity for me."

So will that happen in Green Bay?

"It will be hard," Fisher said with a laugh. "With this guy (points at Green's locker) around, I think it will be hard for anybody to be a starter. He's still young in his career, and I know it will be tough. I just have to hope for the best."

If Fisher's intelligence has anything to do with it, he'll be just fine. In fact, if you asked any of his coaches about him, they no doubt will mention that above everything else, Fisher is always assignment-sure. That is a quality Fisher puts to use off the field as well.

Fisher has interned the past two offseasons with Salomon Smith Barney in Green Bay, working in the financial services industry. Although he's in the process of a solid NFL career, Fisher said the decision to do work away from the gridiron was an easy one.

"I do it so it will help me broaden everything that I learned in school," Fisher explained. "I have an economics degree and I just want to learn more about the economy and the best ways to invest money.

"Doing the internship with them wasn't something that I really had to think about because I know I want my money to work for me instead of me always having to work for my money. It was an opportunity that came up and I took it."

As well rounded as Fisher's game is, it's also evident that he possesses the same all-around qualities as a person. Fisher is one of Green Bay's more active players in the community, giving time to the March of Dimes and Epilepsy Foundation, among other organizations, as well as attending an annual Christmas party for young cancer patients at St. Vincent Hospital.

Fisher looks back on his time as a youngster and said that it's his turn to make a difference in the lives of others.

"When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, it wasn't like I saw Cleveland Browns players coming back to my school trying to give words of encouragement. So it's an opportunity for me to give back to the community," Fisher explained. "The community is always supporting us, why can't we support them?"

That explanation is something you'd expect to hear from Fisher. It's just further proof that once again, Fisher's contributions on and off the field make a world of difference -- even if they aren't always noticed.

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