Titans Eager To Move Past Questions About Young's Psyche

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — If Vince Young isn't sure he wants to play football anymore, he didn't show it Wednesday. He reported to work, watched part of practice with a wrap around his sprained left knee and avoided reporters wanting to talk about his mother's comments indicating he doesn't want to play because of the negativity he's faced since being booed heavily during a 17-10 win over Jacksonville.

His coach and teammates are sticking with their quarterback and the official story that whatever happened that prompted coach Jeff Fisher to alert police to help locate Young and check on his emotional well-being was just a misunderstanding. And that it was blown out of proportion by the media.

And no, Young doesn't have to prove his commitment to either Fisher or his teammates.

"He led us to the playoffs last year. We just want him to get healthy and back on the field," Fisher said.

Young stood with linebacker Keith Bulluck and former college teammate Michael Griffin for part of practice. Bulluck said he knows Young is fine after speaking with him. The best way they can help the quarterback? Go beat Cincinnati on Sunday.

Bulluck said he's seen Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair get down after losses, something that goes with the pressures of being the quarterback. He expressed his confidence that Young will take the good and the bad of his position.

"That's just things quarterbacks go through. They probably wear red shirts for a reason. They're a little more sensitive than any position on the field," Bulluck joked before becoming serious. "... Being his third year I'm sure he has a lot on his plate like we all do. I know he'll rebound, and we'll be all right. That's why I'm saying that the situation will take care of itself."

Center Kevin Mawae called Young still a leader whose teammates trust and believe in him.

"Anything that happens outside the locker room will be outside the realm of football, that's something that's between him and his family and whoever's handling that with him," Mawae said.

The quarterback didn't talk to reporters, but Fisher did promise Young will speak "at some point."

Young is the only person who knows what he was thinking Monday when he skipped an MRI exam to determine the extent of his sprained medial collateral ligament. Fisher and a psychologist met with the quarterback at his home, then he took off in his Mercedes to eat chicken wings and watch football.

But whatever he said at home prompted someone to call Fisher, who said Tuesday night the information he had didn't allow him the luxury of waiting. On Wednesday, Fisher only called it a misunderstanding, but defended what the team did as concern for an employee.

For now, veteran Kerry Collins will start. The Titans signed Chris Simms as insurance Wednesday and will not project when Young will be healthy enough to play. Fisher said the starter's job remains Young, but admitted the quarterback has some work to do.

"He has to put some things back in perspective, and first and foremost has to get healthy," Fisher said.

Young was booed in 2004 while in college when Texas was shut out by Oklahoma, and he was benched for the second half of a win over Missouri the next week. He responded by never losing another game.

"Anybody that knows Vince knows how competitive he is," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He has a very high standard for himself. When he doesn't feel like he reached that standard at that moment, he does get disappointed.

"But he's fine. He's moving forward. He's been booed before. He's been criticized before. His worst moment here was his best moment because after he played so poorly against Missouri he never lost another game."

Young's fellow quarterbacks are offering up suggestions on dealing with the unique pressure of playing in this league.

Collins, the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft, said he didn't learn how to handle all the attention until he wound up with his third team, the New York Giants in his fifth season. He said he'll be happy to be a resource for Young, but hasn't shared his own story yet.

"I was a young guy who played a lot, had success early and did some things that looking back probably weren't the right things to do. I learned from it. I think that's the most important thing, as it is in life. You make mistakes, you learn from it and move on," Collins said.

Bengals receiver Chad Johnson said football is fun, while pressure is being sent to fight in Iraq. Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer, who had to heal up from his own knee injury, doesn't know Young well. But he believes the key is not to worry about what anyone outside the team says.

"If you're a guy who is always worried about what people are saying about you, it's going to be tough, it's going to eat at you and get at you. But you need to experience it and figure it out and learn to roll with it," Palmer said.

Aaron Rodgers has dealt with his share of criticism in Green Bay and suggests keeping priorities straight.

"If you live your life and you decide your joy and happiness in life (is based) on what people say about you or think about you, you're going to be up and down every day," Rodgers said.

AP Sports Writers Jim Vertuno in Austin and Chris Jenkins in Green Bay contributed to this report.


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