The Sport-o-sphere portion of the internets is going boffo over the plight/performance of former "can't miss" superstar and Heisman trophy winn... err... runner-up QB-from-Texas stud, Vince Young. Seems the pressure is getting to him and it looks like he tried to quit on the Titans this past weekend vs. the Jags --before head coach Jeff Fisher persuaded Young to get back on the horse and go back into the game. Luckily for all involved, Young was injured on the next series and has an excuse to sit out a few games while he nurses his wounds and gets his act together.
It has been so bad that Young's mother spoke out on his behalf. Read about it HERE. The Titans were so worried about him Sunday night that they called the police to hunt him down when they couldn't reach him by phone.
Meanwhile AM Sports Radio hacks and football bloggers of all stripes (example HERE) have been criticizing Young, calling him a "baby", "quitter", and telling him to basically "sack up." In a sense they're right. He needs to get over it and get on his feet. When they point out that all NFL players face pressure --particularly QBs, they're also right on the mark. Young is making amazing money to play a game and there is a ton of pressure on him to perform well.
The problem is that Young has never had to face adversity or criticism in his entire life. He had lazy habits in college, but his astounding athleticism carried him through --to the Heisman trophy and a national championship. But the NFL is full of outstanding athletes and his half-hearted work habits aren't cutting it.
Though all top NFL players are under pressure, they aren't all wired the same. Some find the pressure inspiring, but others (Ricky Williams anyone? --he made it back only after a long trek through drugs, suspension, and the CFL) find it overwhelming. These folks aren't necessarily weak, but they face a much harder time dealing with anxiety because their bodies and minds are simply different. It seems clear that Young is going through an emotional crisis the likes of which many of us have not had to face. He is facing absolute failure on a national stage --and he doesn't have the tools to cope with it or bounce back. He may have a bigger need to please or super ego than others in his situation; his body chemistry may go haywire by over-reacting to anxiety --so much so that he can't function well. It sure appears that way. So to label him a loser or quitter may make you feel better, but it is overly simplistic and doesn't do much to solve the problem.
What Young needs is a few months off (preferably the whole season) to watch Kerry Collins and/or Chris Simms (both of whom have had their share of challenges) and to learn the offense and the fundamentals of the QB position. He also needs to see a real shrink and probably get some serious anti-anxiety medication. Young has the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. What he needs now are new mental skills to deal with stress and adversity. Telling him to "buck up" is a joke. Its time to get him some real help --so that we can all benefit from watching him perform at a top level and learning from his story about how to deal with anxiety and failure. Here' hoping Vince Young can make it back to the top.