Sherman's family has been living in Bradenton, Fla., and it was assumed Sherman wanted to be closer to them after some trying times in Green Bay. Sherman's son, Raymond Sherman II, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the family's garage on May 19, 2003. The death was ruled a suicide, then changed later to "undetermined." The Sherman family successfully fought the ruling, with Brown County Circuit Judge Richard Dietz ruling the death an "accident" on May 20, 2004.
"Ray went through a personal tragedy that was very, very difficult up there," Titans coach Jeff Fisher was quoted as saying in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "This is an opportunity for Ray to open a new chapter in his life and his career so he is very, very excited about this opportunity."
Sherman signed a two-year contract and replaces Steve Walters, who will coach the receivers in Jacksonville. Walters had just signed a contract extension with the Titans but Fisher allowed Walters to join friend Carl Smith in Jacksonville. Smith recently was hired as Jacksonville's offensive coordinator.
"I feel Ray coming in and filling this spot certainly helps once again solidify the staff as we go ahead and continue to pursue a coordinator," Fisher said in a news release.
Fisher and Sherman were assistant coaches in San Francisco in 1992-93.
Sherman spent five seasons in Green Bay. This season, Javon Walker blossomed into a Pro Bowl player and Donald Driver re-emerged as a dangerous receiver after a neck injury led to a subpar 2003 season. Walker and Driver formed the second-most productive duo in the league, behind only the Rams' Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Walker began his emergence in 2003, as did Robert Ferguson.
Sherman was wildly popular with the players. When Sherman's family visited Green Bay, the receivers made a point to play and joke with Sherman's daughters. During the Christmas Eve game in Minnesota, Driver and Walker handed footballs to the children after scoring touchdowns.
"Ray Sherman is an original member of my staff who has served this organization for five years," Packers coach Mike Sherman said. "This is a great opportunity for him to both advance in his career and address the needs of his family. He will be extremely missed by his players and by me. Through his efforts, our receivers were able to grow into a very productive component of our offense. They've become leaders on this team, players who make me very proud."
Sherman's defection is the latest in a busy off-season for the Packers. Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin took the same post at Southern California, running backs coach Johnny Roland took the same gig in New Orleans, defensive backs coach Kurt Schottenheimer was fired and took the DBs job in St. Louis and defensive coordinator Bob Slowik was fired and will coach the DBs in Denver. Jim Bates was hired to replace Slowik while Edgar Bennett will replace Roland. The other jobs have not been filled.
"We always plan ahead for the possibility of change on our coaching staff," Sherman said. "We're well equipped to handle the present needs of our team. We're fortunate in Green Bay to offer a rewarding experience for coaches in this league and I don't anticipate problems in finding men of high character and talent to replace the coaches we've lost."