Young and still growing
Vince Young can still be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but his attitude has to change.
The former No. 3 overall draft pick of the Tennessee Titans has dealt with his share of problems since he entered the league, but it is his inability to persevere through these problems and negative comments that keeps Young from reaching his potential.
Young started 13 games during his rookie season, throwing for 2,199 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Sure, these numbers are not phenomenal, but plenty of quarterbacks have fared worse during their first season. Plus, they were good enough to land Young NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Before Young’s second season began he said he wanted to be more of a leader.
However, Young did the opposite when he broke curfew by staying at his house instead of at the team hotel, resulting in a suspension from the 2007 preseason opener against the Redskins.
Titans players with less than four years of NFL experience are required to stay at a hotel during camp, but Young felt he was too much of a star to follow team rules. Young refused to discuss the situation in the locker room, silently shaking his head while walking past several reporters.
‘He took it really hard, and not just when guys were around,’ defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth said to reporters shortly after the event. ‘But he has a lot on his shoulders. He has more on his shoulders than 52 other guys on this team. He made a mistake. He’ll bounce back and be totally fine.’
But Young was not fine. After a miserable sophomore campaign, in which Young threw only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions, doubt began to sink in among Titans fans. Although former offensive coordinator Norm Chow and Titans head coach Jeff Fisher were never high on Young, Titans owner Bud Adams wanted the University of Texas and Houston Madison High School product as the face of his franchise, so Tennessee drafted him in 2006.
With fans and coaches getting antsy, and an owner who did not want to look like a fool starting to feel the heat, Young needed a big 2008 preseason. Young did not deliver, however, as the Titans could not find the end zone for the entire preseason when Young was under center.
Luckily for Young, backup quarterback Kerry Collins was even worse. Collins threw one touchdown, but completed only 37 percent of his passes. Young failed to perform when pressure was put on him, but because of Collin’s horrific performances Young’s job was safe.
In the season opener against Jacksonville, Young was booed off the field after throwing his second interception of the day. He trotted to the bench, sat down and hung his head in sorrow. Young refused to move when the Titans got the ball back, forcing Fisher to get in Young’s face.
Young went back onto the field after hearing Fisher’s lecture, but sprained his knee a few plays later. Young visited Shelia Peters, a clinical psychologist the next day. During their meeting, Young talked about suicide and the pressure of being an NFL quarterback.
That evening, Young left his house with a gun and did not tell anyone where he was going. The Titans and Young’s manager, Mike Mu, were forced to call police.
Reports said Young was watching Monday Night Football and eating chicken wings with a friend while the police were searching for Young, but sources close to Young said this did not mean he was not having problems.
Young later told reporters he was never depressed, nor did he ever contemplate suicide, but Fisher said Young ‘definitely needs to work through some things.’
Collins became the Titans starter for the rest of the season, leading them to a division title and a 13-3 record. Tennessee re-signed Collins to a two-year, $15 million contract this offseason and Fisher said Collins will enter training camp as the starter. Young’s chances to ever start for the Titans again appear to be small, but he has not given up just yet.
Young has recovered from his knee injury, and he is not ready to concede the starting spot to Collins. He showed up for the beginning of the Titan’s offseason conditioning program, which began March 16. He attended voluntary minicamps and asked Fisher what he needs to do to become the starter again.
Both Fisher and Adams continue to say Young is Tennessee’s franchise quarterback and will eventually start again. The Titans need Young on their roster to keep Collins from getting too comfortable, especially after they lost Chris Simms to the Broncos during free agency.
Plus, Young has three years left on his rookie contract and Adams is not ready to give up on Young or the money he invested in him.
‘Vince is under contract for three more years, so he is not going anywhere,’ Adams told The Tennesseean.
Fisher also has faith in Young, and will give him a chance to reclaim the starting role, but only if he can improve by leaps and bound.
‘Kerry is returning as our starter,’ Fisher told the Associated Press. ‘If for some reason Vince has a great camp and Kerry hits a wall, I’m talking about a hypothetical, but there is always that possibility.’
The Titans want Young to succeed, considering the amount of money he makes. If Young works hard enough, he can take back his job. But the only way that will happen is if he learns how to react properly to criticism and disappointment.