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Time for Vince Young to Give Titans Something to Believe in

Jun 15, 2010 – 4:00 PM
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Thomas George

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Vince Young

"A lot is expected of me, I know that. I embrace it. I've faced some things in my four years that passed and now I feel like I am more at home. I paid my dues and now I feel I can say a little bit more, do a little bit more. I am willing to do my part and whatever it takes. The biggest thing was being patient, being humble. I want to continue to use those things people say I can't do to use as motivation to show the world Vince is still working and staying strong."
-- Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young in early April.

He bungled it. He fixed it. Now another makeover is underway for Vince Young.

He turned 27 last May. He will be a fifth-year NFL quarterback this fall.

Cameras caught him in a Dallas strip-club scuffle in the wee hours of Sunday morning. He was slapped with a misdemeanor assault citation and a fine of up to $500.

The Titans expect, at minimum, he could be fined by the league or, at maximum, suspended for two games. The league may doubt his ability to mature. His coaches may question hinging their season and their future on his instability.

But here is what matters most to Young: Will his teammates, once again, jump ship on him?

So far, so good there for Young. After his apology to them before practice on Monday, the ones who support him spoke boldly for him. The ones who said nothing? Who could blame them for having a foot in, a foot out? For waiting, expecting the next Vince Young bomb to somewhere drop.

Young thrives on their support, their belief in him. Without it, as in some of his past troubled times with the Titans, he spirals into depression, into a shell. His level of frustration boils. They know him as a great guy, a fun-loving guy, one with a joke a minute. They have seen him hide from his responsibility, shrink in his job, melt at being booed but also flip that and rise to rare on-field levels.

This quarterback always needs a pat on the back. He always needs his coaches, his teammates to show him that they care. He had it. He lost it. He fixed it. Another crash now. He's fixing it again. He just has to find a way to keep it.

Staying far away from strip clubs would be a nice start. This mix of pro athletes and strip clubs, what is that all about? Well, let's not go quite there. But we can say that star athletes, and particularly star, troubled NFL quarterbacks, can walk into such a place and immediately feel empowerment. They are royalty. Rule-bending allowed. They strut straight into the VIP section. A bevy of strippers are dispatched their way. It's a lying game.

Because the athlete is not treated "special'' because of who he is -- only because of what he represents.

In this case, it is the NFL. Its shield. Its brand. And in Young's case, the Titans.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher called this incident a "setback'' but said he does not believe it will affect Young in the long run. Fisher added: "Vince is walking on his own on this one.''

Let's hope not.

Vince Young walking alone is not a good thing. That is way too much room for "Vince being Vince.''

This quarterback always needs a pat on the back. He always needs his coaches, his teammates to show him that they care. Those closest to him say that personal and family issues often engulf him. He is not a person who likes to show any weakness, as are plenty of NFL players who believe they are supposed to be too strong, too powerful for that. He doesn't like to ask a lot of questions because he doesn't like to admit he does not know.

The Titans have stuck with him.

Titans owner Bud Adams has stuck with him.

It is time for Young to understand and accept that he can maintain or torpedo all of this. He has an organization around him that in some corners thinks "yes, he can'' while in other corners they are certain this entire connection is going "tick, tick, tick ..." -- that he can never grasp and perform his 24/7 Titans starting quarterback accountability and dependability roles. They were impressed that Young stepped to the mic on Monday and took blame for his Dallas downer. That has not always happened, his stepping forward rather than ducking. He was doing and saying so many of the right things this offseason.

A blip or a canyon opening?
The Titans know that Young is not a typical, pocket-passing quarterback. They know he is always going to be a quarterback who is challenged in his passing accuracy. What they also know is they were 0-6 with him on the bench to start last season -- and then won five straight and eight of 10 when he took command.

Young has always believed he can take over on a football field. Take over a game. He has to hope that Adams keeps on believing in him, keeps fighting for him. Without that, without the man who "nudged'' Fisher to insert the quarterback back into the lineup last season, it's a wrap for Young in Tennessee.

He had flown solo so long, for so far on a football field that he had to learn how to depend more on his Titans teammates. That is accomplished. But now Young insists that if he can just keep his guys, his Titans teammates believing in him, that he can lead them to great places.

Uh, Vince, that's a two-way street.
Filed under: Sports
Tagged: vince young