This situation calls for delicacy. Maturity. Empathy. What's happening with Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young, whatever the heck is going on, it's sensitive. It calls for understanding.
Unfortunately, I'm here. And I'm none of those things.
Can we be real for a minute? Not plastic and fake. Not politically correct. Not holier than thou. Not holy at all. Allow me to be absolutely 100 percent genuine and demand to know what in the hell is wrong with Vince Young.
|Look around, Vince. You'll see plenty of people who would want your job and your problems. (Getty Images)|
It wasn't enough for the Cowboys' Terrell Owens to be one of the best receivers in NFL history. The fame, the fortune, the females ... whatever he wanted, he got. And still two years ago he apparently dabbled with suicide, though we're still not entirely sure what went down that crazy day with T.O. We're not sure of anything other than the fact he had 25 million reasons to live, but still he swallowed a whole lot of pills.
It wasn't enough for the Dolphins' Ricky Williams to be one of the best running backs in NFL history. So he went borderline bonkers in 2004 and left on a dope-smoking safari that had him searching for truth at the end of a blunt in a hut somewhere in Tahiti or something.
Clown. They're all clowns. Do I seem sympathetic? Good, because I am not. What I am is tired and grumpy from living a one-income life in a two-income world, from waking up every morning to news that another journalism monster is laying off another 100 employees, and wondering if my monster is next.
What I am, I suspect, is a lot like you. A little bit scared of the present, and absolutely terrified of the future. Jobs are disappearing all over the country. Mortgages aren't being paid. College tuition is looming like Mount Kilimanjaro. That's a certainty. Social Security? That's not certain at all.
And so what I am, I suspect, is a lot like you in another respect: More than a little unsympathetic toward Vince Young, just as I had no pity for Terrell Owens or Ricky Williams or Todd Marinovich or Britney Spears or any other young, famous and rich person who decides, dammit, it's just not enough to be young, famous and rich. And beautiful.
It's not enough to be a genetic lottery winner, blindly fortunate enough to be born with gifts and skills beyond comprehension. It's not enough to wake up every morning with financial security for yourself and your kids and even their kids as long as you're not a complete moron with your money. It's not enough to have the kind of job millions of people want. To have an autograph millions of people want. That's not enough.
So Vince Young pouts on the sideline Sunday when the home crowd boos, acts as if he doesn't want to go back onto the football field in the middle of a game, and then when it's over he retreats to his house and sulks to the point where his employer dispatches a psychologist and then the head coach and then the freaking police in an attempt to make sure he's OK.
Turns out, he is OK. His mom says he's "hurting inside and out" and "tired of being ridiculed and persecuted," but all in all, the Titans and Vince Young say he's OK. And what a relief that is. Because it would be heartbreaking if Vince Young decided, as he himself says he almost did after his rookie season, that being a starting quarterback in the NFL wasn't a fulfilling way to live life. That it would be better to give all of that up -- give up the financial security, the opportunity to provide for his mom plus all kinds of other current and future family members -- than to deal with the scrutiny and the pressure of being an NFL superstar.
I have a question: Can someone please give me that kind of scrutiny and pressure? Please? Make my life miserable. Force me to have a 6-foot-5, 240-pound body that runs fast and strong and excels at a child's game well enough to earn a $58 million contract. Force me to fly first class and eat at the best restaurants and deal with the stares of people who want to be me. Because that sounds like it sucks.
What kind of sense of humor does God in heaven have to bless some of us with poverty or broken bodies or criminals for parents ... and curse some of us with Britney Spears' voice or Terrell Owens' hands or Vince Young's athleticism? And it's the genetic superstars who can't handle it? If that's some sort of celestial joke, I'm not laughing. I don't find this funny at all.
The whole thing is sickening, and this case specifically so. From the way the Titans completely sold out their quarterback by making him out to be a basket case, to the way Young apparently didn't give the Titans much choice. Maybe he is a basket case. Maybe he isn't.
Either way, Vince Young has what you and I want. Whether it's something as sexy as his job or as superficial as his car or as serious as his lifetime of security, we want it. He has it. Forget what he owes to himself or his family or the Titans. He needs to get off his ass and play football. He owes that much to you and me, and to everyone else who would trade places with him in a second.