Monday, September 22, 2008

When Mom needs to stay quiet


Listen, I love my mom. Like a lot of young men, I now realize the time and effort she put into raising me into who I am today. And I know she's always had my best interests in mind (even if I have wholeheartedly disagreed at times).

But ... that doesn't mean I want her all up in my business, talking to the media about the difficult times I'm going through because of the brutal job market and discussing how I got screwed by my last employer.

That's what two NFL Moms did in recent weeks. And not just normal NFL Moms, but the mothers of two starting quarterbacks. First, Vince Young's mom went to the press after her son had endured a crazy two days — which included Young not wanting to reenter the Titans' opening game of the season and then having the police search for him the following night because people, including his mom and Titans coach Jeff Fisher, were worried about him.

Young's mom, Felicia Young, told reporters that her son was going through a rough time in his life, saying: "Vince has gone through a whole lot as a young person. And I think he has done pretty well up to this point. But it is hard, all he is going through right now. He's hurting inside and out. But he will be fine if people are prayerful and help my baby boy out. He is a young man. He just needs a lot of love and support."

Now just think about that quote for a minute. The part that sticks to me is "help my baby boy out." Unfortunately for Young, he is in the NFL, one of the toughest, roughest sports leagues in the world. And no defensive lineman on an opposing team is going to help him out. Rather, if Young ever gets back onto the field, he might get hit even harder.

While I admire Young's mom for her candid remarks, she should have made them to friends of Young and possibly members of the Titans organization in private. She didn't help her son one bit by speaking publicly.

Now, Young is on the bench recovering from an injury. But for all I know, his season could be done in Tennessee. Kerry Collins has played well enough to lead the Titans to a 3-0 start, and Young's teammates — no matter how much they care for him — have to wonder whether he is stable enough to lead an NFL team, especially a team with such high expectations.

After all, moms always know best, and judging by Felicia Young's comments, her son is not in a good mental state. He does not appear ready to lead the 2-minute offense in a tight game.

Young isn't the only (former) starting quarterback who wasn't helped by his mother's mouth. After Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson was benched last week following two dismal performances that resulted in Vikings' losses, his mother couldn't help but defend her son by talking X's and O's:

"But I don't think they really gave him a fair shake because, if you're running the ball more than you're throwing the ball, then how is he going to be comfortable with his position?" Sanque Jackson quipped. "How's he going to be comfortable passing to his receivers if he's not been able to throw it enough?"

Now I don't think Sanque Jackson's comments hurt her son's future career nearly as much as those of Vince Young's mother, but they definitely didn't help. It's not as if Vikings coach Brad Childress picked up the newspaper, saw the quote and thought, "Geez! What was I thinking? All we need to do is let Tarvaris throw the ball 40 times a game!"

No, I haven't done research, but I'm going to hop out on a limb and say that Sanque Jackson is not a football expert, not a former offensive coordinator. So why the comments? I know she was contacted by the media about Jackson's benching and wanted to say something. That's fine. I understand. But why not simply say, "I'm disappointed in the decision. Hopefully Tarvaris will play his way back into the starter." Nice and bland. The type of quotes the media is used to.

Instead, by shedding more light on the benching, Sanque Jackson gave people more reason to talk about it. She opened the door for critics to discuss why Jackson is such a poor QB at this point in his career. She kept the issue on the front of the sports page when it would have been best for Jackson to slip into his backup role and begin working on reproving his worth to the Minnesota coaching staff.

Because, ultimately, the opinions of Felicia Young and Sanque Jackson don't matter. They're not going to influence any NFL coaching staff into reinserting their their son into the starting lineup. But their voices are heard and their words are taken seriously, because mothers know their sons best.

So now Vince Young is considered an unstable and soft person, which will not help him get his job back anytime soon.

And let's just hope that Tarvaris Jackson learned how to ignore his mother, because if he actually listened to her comments and believes them, he might not work as hard to regain his starting spot in the Vikings' offense. He might actually think that the team's offensive strategy is why he struggled so much.

I love my mom. Most young men do. But we all know that sometimes she simply gets in the way.

Unfortunately for high-profile NFL players, the ramifications can be devastating.

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