Monday, May 26, 2008

Young should be applauded for honesty


A professional athlete speaking honestly?

Especially about something that could bring criticism his way?

Get outta here.

That just doesn't happen -- especially in this information age. Rather, whenever an athlete says they didn't take steroids, I take that to mean, "Yeah, I stuck a needle in my behind several times." When a pitcher says he didn't mean to throw a 98-mph heater at a vulnerable batter's noggin, I translate that to: "Yeah, I was trying to decapitate him."

Yes, honesty is not a strong point of today's stars, particularly when talking about off-the-playing-surface issues.

Which is why I give a ton of credit to Vince Young.

The Tennessee Titans quarterback admitted in an interview posted Monday that he thought about quitting -- yes, giving up the game of football -- after his rookie season of 2006.

It was a shocking revelation to learn about because Young is far from your regular player. He's Tennessee's franchise player. I've never been to Nashville, but I bet it's hard to take a tour of the city without spotting a pedestrian with a No. 10 Titans jersey.

Again, shocking -- but also sincere and, of course, that "H" word.

In some cases, I might criticize an athlete not for admitting such a thing, but for hiding it from his organization for so long. But not in this case. Here's why:

Even while Young was having myriad family issues during that season, he was also leading the Titans to an improbable string of six consecutive victories -- before dropping the season finale to New England -- that nearly landed them in the playoffs. As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, an extremely difficult job to begin with, Young overcame everything to excel on the field.

And he saved the possibility of early retirement for the offseason. He should be applauded for showing maturity in a tough situation (it's hard enough not having decent wide receivers).

If you want to call Young soft, go ahead. Of course, you'd be brutally wrong. Anyone who watched the 2006 Rose Bowl knows that Young is at his best when under immense pressure. His performance to top USC and win the national title was unbelievable.

He's a tough cookie. Now, I'd say he's even tougher for putting himself out there with Monday's statements.

The Titans must, obviously, sit down with Young and make sure he is still dedicated to being their play-caller. That's a conversation that has to occur. Too much is on the line for them to ignore these comments.

But from what Young said, he has overcome those thoughts -- thanks to his teammates and God -- and will continue to put that No. 10 jersey on.

And, for once, I completely believe this potential superstar. No lie detector test is needed. If I'm Tennessee management, I'm taking Young at his word.

It's refreshing to know that at least one big-time athlete isn't too embarrassed to tell the difficult truth.

1 comment:

Sportsattitude said...

His comments are surprising only because he made them public. I will applaud him for his honestly but I'm not sure it was something that needed to be aired for public consumption as it does put out there the fact people are going to start evaluating his movements both on and off the field from a commitment standpoint, especially his teammates and employers. The comments put the Titans in a tricky position. I hadn't seen the story - thanks for bringing it "out."