Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Defending Vince Young

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.


Anonymous said...

So I just heard Vince Young's explanation of where he was. He wasn't depressed, he just needed some quiet time to come to terms with his injury (the first in his career), that and he needed some hot wings. Mental illness or depression aside, I have newfound respect for him as fellow person who is has uncontrollable craving for hot wings, crying out for help.

Can now stop with this liberal pandering to him being a "victim" of depression or mental illness, therefore requiring we protect him so he can fulfill his potential. Can just admit while a supreme athlete at least at the NCAA level, he doesn't have the skills, work ethic or intangibles to be an elite pro quaterback. Fans have every right to boo, especially if they feel a player is not trying his hardest. Just like Leinart, Young's commitment to the game and learning process of becoming a pro quarterback has been called into question due to his behavior. I am tired of this BS line that Curt Schilling keeps spewing about fans not being able to appreciate the challenges, pressures, and stress of the modern athelete. Yeah, I and I also don't appreciate getting a three month "off season", a minimum wage of over a million bucks for most leagues, all the groupies you want, staying in shape as part of my job description, and on a good day having 50,000 people cheer for me when I come to work - life is rough. Just answer this question honestly and then tell me if you feel sorry for Vince and other wuss athletes - in HS, did you want the pressures of being the ultra smart, grinder academic nerd or did you want the "pressure" and life of the football quarter back (or soccer captain if you went to a sissy prep school in Ohio)

Todd said...

I didn't know that respect for mental health issues or the effects of extreme anxiety made me a "liberal." I thought they just reflected that I was "aware" of "reality." I'll have to tell my sister (the therapist) that her choice of profession is not because she wants to help people, but instead its just a reflection of her politics and that she really just needs to tell her clients to "buck up."

Anonymous said...

Helping people is not liberal or conservative - didn't you watch the presidential forum last night - McCain wants to make Obama his Secretary of DoGooderness. What is liberal is trying to coddle him,not hold him accountable for his play and make everybody else change to meet his needs - i.e. don't boo, love him. I respect people with mental health or other barriers - I respect it even more when people with needs fess up and go get help from good people like your sister. Bottom line is he sucky pro quarterback and if its only a matter of his depression or whatever his baggage may be, he needs to address it - kind of like when you're physically injured you go to rehab. But let's not blame the fans or media types to not boo or critique a guy who makes millions, who spent the off season drinking shirtless with his posse rather than studying his playbook, whose game has not improved at all since UT(he still throws side arm), and who was begging not to go back in the game before the injury. He obviously didn't have problems with the attention and scrutiny while collecting millions in endorsements, getting a free ride to a top 25 university, recieving a million dollar signing bonus or any of the other perks of his celebrity and skills. I guess we should stop critiquing Michael Vick or Matt Leinart - I am sure we could find some sociopathy or diagnosis that would justify their suckitude. Man, I have been around Brno too much.

Anonymous said...

Also correction - I don't believe Vince Young won the Heisman. The award that year went to another NCAA legend, apparent NFL under achiever Reggie Bush. We can't boo him either because apparently his performance is affected by some disorder around codependent relationships with reality TV personalities/home video porn stars or a hereditary compulsive need to accept large gifts from agents.