VY till I die

Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from my UT Sports blog Hash Marks.

Boy, is VY having a tough time of it. I’ll admit, when I heard he left the season opener with an injury, part of me hoped it would keep him out a few weeks so he could take a deep breath and reset. Little did I know a media manifested mental meltdown was in the works. But sure enough, next thing you know Jeff Fisher is calling the cops to hunt him down and a crisis negotiator tags along just in case.
Now speculation is rampant. Is he losing it? Does he want to play football? Is he a coddled mamma’s boy?
I know media members have to speculate to some degree. Columnists wouldn’t be worth their salt if they don’t offer insight, ideas and possibilities. But when you’re coming out with theories on the mental health of an individual, you’re moving on to some shaky ground.
Of course, Jason Whitlock can’t stay out of the fray.

No one revolutionizes the starting quarterback position. The position revolutionizes the person playing it. Just ask Donovan McNabb. He figured it out and changed his game. Over the objection of idiots, McNabb developed his skills as a pocket passer. He concentrated on becoming a student of the game. If he can stay healthy over the next three or four years, McNabb will surpass Warren Moon as the best black quarterback ever to play the game.

…But McNabb has never threatened to quit or asked out of a game because the Philly fans were too rough. McNabb understands that in some instances the scrutiny of a black quarterback might be a tad more intense than that of a white one. He also understands that the best way to combat it isn’t whining. It’s performance. It’s work ethic. It’s professionalism.

It’s not a coincidence that McNabb comes from a supportive, two-parent household.

I bring that up not to castigate Vince Young and his mother. I don’t even know the story of Young’s upbringing.

I raise the issue to point out that in modern professional sports — with the astronomical players’ salaries — ownership and management examine the upbringing of the athletes and factor that into their decision-making.

Vick’s failure, Young’s potential failure and the guaranteed money they were given will make ownership more reluctant to anoint another kid from the ‘hood a franchise quarterback straight out of college.

It takes some gumption to suggest Young’s struggles in the NFL are due to his upbringing in the same breath that you admit you know nothing about his upbringing. Then again, Whitlock has never been short on gumption. Texas students that were around when Young was making college football fields his personal playgrounds know all about the life and times of young Vince Young. There’s Vince’s dad going off to jail. There’s Vince in handcuffs and an angry mother storming in to take care of business. There’s gang activity swirling about Vince and the women in his life serving as a bulkhead to deflect it from him.
And finally we find VY, one of the greatest college players to ever step on the field. He scored eight touchdowns in a pair of Rose Bowl appearances. Both were wins of course, and one was a national championship game, of course. If I can add, he racked up 839 yards of offense in those games, “the Granddaddy of them all.”
I’m not saying he’s guaranteed to succeed in the NFL. As Houston Chronicle columnist Richard Justice reminds us of the player—and person— he was at Texas, he also pulls our attention to the uncharacteristic struggles off the field.

Those of us that knew him at the University of Texas are having trouble believing this is the same guy that was so tough, so mature and so fiercely competitive.

He wasn’t simply the best college football player on earth those last two years at Texas. He was the guy that made everything go. Teammates and coaches alike looked to him to lead.

He led the Longhorns in the locker room and on the field. I thought the Texans were fools for not drafting him because I couldn’t comprehend him failing. Now it’s getting harder and harder to believe in him.

In three seasons, he has missed a team flight, sulked when things have gone badly and gotten steadily worse as a player.

That’s not the Vince Young that Longhorn Nation loved. That Vince Young didn’t pout when people doubted him. He fed off it, used it to drive himself to do more and more.

I don’t know if Young will ever but he deserves a little more than uneducated speculation. The latest developments to the story suggest that everything is fine. It was all just a big mix-up. Time to stop overreacting.
I’m not that much of a sucker.
But it might be a little less convoluted than people think.
Young has never been known for his acting skills. He’ll never be confused for a chameleon. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and always has. So the taped interview we’ve all seen rings true.
Something is going on. I won’t argue. But everyone goes through rough patches. No, you don’t need to follow his mamma’s instructions and pray for him and tell him it’ll be OK, but these doomsday prognostications are a bit much.
Young has a winning record in the NFL. He’s been to the playoffs. He stays out of jail. And, yes, he gets upset when he gets overwhelmed. But there’s no reason to think he won’t overcome it.
As always, you can count on Mack Brown for a more optimistic take. I’ll give him the last word.

“Anybody that knows Vince knows how competitive he is. Vince sets a high standard for himself and when he doesn’t reach that standard, he gets disappointed,” said Brown, who sent a text to Young on Monday night. “But he’s fine. He’s moving forward. He’s been criticized before. His worst moment here was his best moment because after he played so poorly against Missouri, he never lost another game.

“So anybody who thinks Vince Young’s not competitive, that he won’t step up, and he’s not going to compete and get that thing turned around doesn’t know Vince Young. He’ll be fine and we’re pulling for him, can’t wait to get him well and get him back out on the field.”

Published in: on September 12, 2008 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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