NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the pregame moments before the Tennessee Titans played the Jets, a bouncing Vince Young walked over to Brett Favre and tapped him on the shoulder. Favre turned and seemed shocked to see Young. They hugged and talked for a few minutes before Young ran back toward his team's bench.
|Vince Young was drafted third overall in 2006, eight spots ahead of Vandy's Jay Cutler. (Getty Images)|
Now, Young is struggling to hold on: to his image, to his career and maybe even to his sanity.
Several Titans players wondered to me privately on Sunday not only if Young will ever return as a starter in Tennessee but if his future in the NFL as a whole is at risk. They're not alone in these thoughts.
As the Titans enjoy a brilliant season (despite the butt kicking at the hands of the Jets on Sunday) many around football are wondering: what's going to happen with Young?
It's easy to see why there's such curiosity. It's almost as if Young isn't even on the team. He's practically invisible. We've seen players like Young before who enter the league with great fanfare only to become lost souls. That doesn't make it any less remarkable to witness.
Young remains one of the more fascinating stories in sports because he's an anonymous one-time star with an uncertain future.
Young was picked third overall in the 2006 draft, was promoted by the NFL as one of the new faces of the league, and he's now forced to watch from the bench. In the locker room, it's not that he's disliked; he isn't. Far from it. It's just that Young is a non-factor with some of his teammates.
Remember, Young was voted team captain before the season, started 15 games in 2007 and won a national championship at Texas.
This is the question when it comes to Young -- do the Titans still want him? Maybe an even bigger question is: Can the organization still trust him?
It's been a rapid unraveling for Young. The most recent quarterback to have this sort of public and precipitous fall was Ryan Leaf (and maybe Matt Leinart). Earlier this season it appeared Young refused to re-enter a game against Jacksonville after throwing an interception and getting booed. He had to be talked back into the game by coach Jeff Fisher.
Then there was the craziness of Fisher calling the Nashville police after a therapist informed Fisher that Young had thoughts of suicide (Young has denied this). The police have since made an addendum to their original filings, the New York Times reported, and it's somewhat worrisome. "I asked him, ‘What made her worry about him?' " Lt. Andrea Swisher wrote, speaking about the therapist. "He stated, 'His mood, his emotions, he wants to quit, and he mentioned suicide several times.' He went on to state that he left the house with a gun."
Professional football (and indeed many sports) is notoriously bad at handling situations like Young's.
The Titans are likely going to wait and see what happens in the remainder of this season with Kerry Collins before making any final decision with Young. The team also has backup Chris Simms.
It's possible the team could keep Collins, Simms and Young but it's difficult to believe that if the Titans make the postseason with Collins and they want Collins as their starter next year, they'd ask Young to be a backup. The Titans don't need Young, especially if they're happy with Simms (and they are).
Following the game, when the media was allowed into Tennessee's locker room, Young was gone. He may have been in the room and I didn't see him but that's doubtful.
At least for now, Young is no longer the quarterback of the future in Tennessee. At least for now, no one knows what Young's future is.
Or even if he has one in football at all.