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Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Young needs support from Titans

September 18, 2008

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Rarely does a knee injury help a player. Tennessee linebacker Keith Bulluck, however, thinks teammate Vince Young could benefit from missing some time while tending to a sprained left MCL.

"His being out, I think maybe helps him a little bit," said Bulluck, one of the Titans' team leaders. "I think he gets to miss football and miss the things that he loves about it, and while his knee is on the mend, I'm sure everything else will for him too."

Young, however, claimed nothing beside the ligament needs to mend. Stories about depression and a lack of passion for the game are bogus, he claimed. He never thought about quitting, despite some of the events of early last week.

First he was booed after throwing an interception in the Titans' home win over Jacksonville a week ago. There was some indication he did not want to go back into the game after the pick.

Then he was injured, yet missed an MRI appointment Monday. The team sent a psychologist to talk with him. When Young left his house, his family thought he was distraught. When the Titans could not contact him, they asked the Nashville police to help locate him.

Young claimed he was over at a friend's house, eating wings and watching the Packers-Vikings game on TV.

"I was never depressed," he insisted. "Football, this is my life. This is my dream. All I did all these years growing up to get to this point and never had an injury like this before in my life."

The Titans said the whole thing was a misunderstanding. But then a Nashville police report quoted coach Jeff Fisher as saying Young "mentioned suicide several times" during his talk with the therapist, and left his house with a gun.

It's hard to misinterpret the word "suicide." Players have had knee injuries before, some season-ending and some career-threatening, and that word never came up. There obviously is more to Young's situation than a wobbly MCL.

This is a guy who rarely has seen the darker side of the game. He was a Texas high school icon, and when he crossed the goal line for the winning touchdown in the Texas Longhorns' national championship victory, he held the football world in his hands

His transition into the pros, however, hasn't been easy. His passing numbers have not been great, and his play has been erratic. Yet he has remained a winner: The Titans made the postseason last season even though few saw them as a playoff team.

Maybe he's one of those guys who constantly needs praise rather than a boot in the behind. It's essential his teammates and the whole Titan franchise give him the support he needs to get through these tough times. He certainly has a tremendous resource in place in Kerry Collins, who has fought more than his share of demons.

How will Young respond? During the 2004 college season, he was booed at home during a 12-0 loss to Oklahoma, then benched for the second half the next week against Missouri.

After that, however, he never lost another game in a Longhorns uniform, a run of 19 victories culminating with that unforgettable title win over Southern Cal following the 2005 season.

Hopefully for his sake, he'll be able to bounce back once again.

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