|Young is suing his former agent for misappropriating millions of his earnings. (US Presswire)|
DALLAS -- Six years after entering the NFL as the third player taken in the draft, Vince Young finds himself without a team and with only a fraction of the money he received from a contract that guaranteed him $26 million.
The question is, where did it all go?
In an increasingly caustic war of words, attorneys have been arguing for months over whether Young is an out-of-control spender who put himself deeply in the hole or simply a victim of inexperienced advisers, one of whom was his own uncle.
Either way, the quarterback whose future seemed unlimited after he led Texas to a Rose Bowl victory in 2006 is now back home in Houston and in a tenuous financial condition.
"I would just say that Vince needs a job," said Trey Dolezal, Young's attorney, when asked to give a general assessment of his client's finances.
The fall has been a dizzying one for the player who twice made the Pro Bowl with the Tennessee Titans. Young sent out a tweet thanking the Bills and their fans after he was released but hasn't spoken to the media since. He declined a request to be interviewed for this story.
Even in pro sports, where tales of squandered wealth abound, Young's plight is "pretty dramatic," said Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business who has written and lectured extensively on the business of sports.
"You'd think it would be hard to blow that much money," Shropshire said.
Young is suing his former agent, Major Adams, and a North Carolina financial planner, Ronnie Peoples, alleging that they misappropriated $5.5 million. In some instances, the pair forged his signature or impersonated him on the phone or in emails, according to the lawsuit, filed in Houston in June.
The suit was filed five days after a New York lender notified Young that a loan of nearly $1.9 million obtained in his name during the NFL lockout in 2011 was in default. Young is now seeking to stop the lender, Pro Player Funding LLC, from enforcing a judgment of nearly $1.7 million, claiming he wasn't involved in obtaining the loan and that the proceeds went to Adams and Peoples.
"They conspired to take Vince's money," Dolezal said. "It's that simple."
Young was the first client of a company, (hash)1 Next Level Sports and Entertainment Inc., formed by Adams, a Houston criminal defense attorney, and the quarterback's uncle, Keith Young, a former middle school teacher.
Young's problem was "he was just very young ... and allowing these people to have too much control over his life and his name," Dolezal said.
That notion is vigorously disputed by attorneys for Adams and Peoples, who say Young has nobody to blame but himself.
"This is a person scrambling helplessly and pointing in all directions to blame others to get out of debt," said Charles Peckham, Adams' attorney.
Adams twice wrote checks to himself from Young's accounts, but both times were out of necessity, including once when the agent was required to use personal funds to charter a plane for the quarterback after he missed a team flight, Peckham said.
Peoples has filed a countersuit in which he castigates Young for allowing his uncle to serve as his business manager despite having no expertise in that field.
Peoples claims in the countersuit that every decision he made was approved by Keith Young. And he calls Vince Young's unwillingness to accept responsibility "a common occurrence ... as [former Titans coach] Jeff Fisher, [Texas coach] Mack Brown, numerous NFL executives, coaches, teammates, scouts, girlfriends and illegitimate children will attest."
Peoples' attorney, David Chaumette, said he has documents to support the strongly-worded filing.
"You'll find there was a lot of money being spent in a bunch of different directions," Chaumette said.
A working phone number for Keith Young could not be located. Court records do not show that he has an attorney.
According to public records, Vince Young was one of at least 10 NFL players who turned to Pro Player Funding for cash during the lockout. Loan documents show he borrowed the $1.9 million at 20 percent interest, with $619,122 in interest paid up front, and agreed that a judgment could be entered if he missed a payment.
Young authorized $1 million in payments to Pro Player directly from his Eagles salary during the 2011 season, and his accountant was working this year to have a similar arrangement with the Bills, according to court records. However, when a payment due in May was never made, the loan went into default.
In challenging the loan's validity, Young claims he didn't "knowingly execute" any of the loan documents. Anything he signed was "without the corresponding documents attached and without knowledge as to what the signatures pages referred," one of his court filings states.
Pro Player says its case is supported by the fact that Young's signatures were notarized and that emails show he was involved in making sure the lender received repayment directly from the Eagles.
"Call me if this is not 100 percent clear," Young's accountant wrote him in August 2011 in an email explaining the arrangement. "We want to make certain you know exactly what is going on at all times, especially when you're signing your name to something."
Young also contends that Pro Player's efforts to serve him and the Bills with legal papers during training camp, which included a threat to contact the local sheriff, "played a role" in the Bills' decision to release him.
"I wasn't in the room when they [the Bills] made a decision, but what would you think? It certainly wouldn't help me if I'm the owner or the head coach knowing all this is going on with Vince and then he goes out and plays poorly," Dolezal said.
Bills coach Chan Gailey declined comment when asked if Young's off-the-field issues had anything to do with his release.