Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
– "Vincent" by Don McLean
They're calling him a bust, a naive nitwit who blew $50 million during his six years in the NFL on strip clubs and child support and taking his boys out to the Cheesecake Factory.
They're saying he's finished, that no team will ever again take a chance on Vincent Immature, even though he was named to the Pro Bowl as recently as 2009. The sports media cluster has already got the NFL's 2007 Offensive Rookie of the Year playing in Canada next year. His side-armed throwing motion is no longer his greatest liability. It's his "coachability," or, as they might say in the tough Hiram Clarke neighborhood where Young grew up, "being some old dude's punk ass bitch."
After being cut by the Buffalo Bills – the Buffalo Bills! – in August, Vince Young is not helping President Obama's jobless rate. On a week when Texas exes Justin Tucker and Jamaal Charles won big games for the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, respectively, Young made the papers by reportedly being broke. Branded a brooder, he's the big baby that once threw his shoulder pads into the crowd in anger after Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher wouldn't put him back in the game. ElVinYo handles adversity about as well as Andy Dick does an open bar.
After a sensational college career, capped by being the hero of the greatest college football game ever played, Vince Young went anti-Rosenhaus, becoming the first client of a sports agency run by his uncle and a family friend named Major. VY was rewarding those who had his back before he had his name tattooed on it in big block letters.
He was giving back and now he's trying to get it back. In June, Young filed a suit against agent Major Adams and financial planner Ronnie Peoples, accusing them of misappropriating $5.5 million. Vince claims in court papers that they forged his signature and impersonated him on the phone and in emails in order to withdraw money, a charge Adams and Peoples vigorously deny. "This is a person scrambling helplessly and pointing in all directions to blame others to get out of debt," Adams' attorney recently told The Dallas Morning News. One of the withdrawals, Adams said, was to charter a plane after Vince missed a team flight. Accepting responsibility has not been the strong suit for this 6-foot, 5-inch physical freak coddled by a mother, two sisters, and a well-funded state university.
There's little doubt that Young is a bit of a head case. Live his life and try to be well-measured. He's been signing autographs since Bell Biv Devoe had hits, and at Madison High in Houston he was football's LeBron James, so much better than anyone else. Everybody wanted a piece of him to make their lives better. But the only place that ever truly worked out was on the football field. Does anyone remember 38-37 in the 2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan and 41-38 against USC the next year? This was a person who was not scrambling helplessly.
True Longhorn football fans take no delight in the downfall of this self-centered professional athlete because of what he gave us in January 2006. I have a DVD of that national championship game and I've re-watched it more than the Traci Lords tape I stole from (and later returned to) I Luv Video in 1988. Coach Mack Brown earned his millions that season by loosening up and letting Vince be Vince. The whole team fed off his swagger. Number 10 wanted to have fun again, and when he did he was the best football player any of us ever saw. If that touchdown run on fourth and 9 against USC isn't one of the five greatest moments of your life, well, you can pick up your shoes on the way out.
They say he'll never come back, but we know they're wrong. Given the examples of Pacman Jones, Lawrence Phillips, Todd Marinovich, Ryan Leaf, and other troubled men who blew their second chances, it doesn't look good for VY's redemption song. But he's already beaten the odds by lending his name to a Downtown steakhouse that's actually quite good. Maybe after his break from football he'll get his head straight and pull a Michael Vick.
If not, we still have the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Nobody can default on those memories. Nobody can accuse VY of not having the mental toughness of a true winner. But it's tough out there in the NFL, where it's more important to prove a point (Bountygate, replacement refs, etc.) than to be fair.
I could have told you, Vincent. This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.
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