Vince Young is entering his fifth season in the NFL since being drafted by the Tennessee Titans. His first two seasons were spent as the starting quarterback where he enjoyed success and was named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, the 2008 season proved to be difficult. Young hurt his knee in the first game of that season and he was originally expected to miss two to three weeks but he missed more. Jeff Fisher made the decision to go with the aging veteran, Kerry Collins, while Young rehabbed his knee but Collins won his first ten games. So Fisher decided to have Collins remain the starter for the remainder of the season. That gamble proved to pay off for the Titans as Collins led them to a 13-3 record, an AFC South division title and a playoff berth. They eventually lost to the Ravens in the divisional playoff round but Young’s self-confidence declined. During that season, his therapist reported that Young had mentioned suicide to her during a mental exam and that precautions should be taken about his frail psyche. Despite the rocky 2008 season, Young bounced back last year to start ten games, in which he went 8-2, but the Titans missed the playoffs after starting the season 0-6. Young enters this season as the starting quarterback. This job is now his and his to lose. Collins is still lurking in the shadows but Young is determined to keep his job for a very long time. Vince Young joined KGOW in Houston to talk about how he kept himself mentally prepared throughout the first half of last season sitting on the bench, what his relationship was with Steve McNair and what Steve meant to him, and where he is at mentally going into this next season.
How he kept himself mentally prepared throughout the first half of last season sitting on the bench:
“I mean it is definitely prayer sitting to yourself and having a moment by yourself. It is always good to have knowledge from someone that is older than you that you love and things like that from my past or from my mom or from my uncles, from Brian even saving me from information or from family-wise. You eat all of that knowledge up and you get all of that information now it is time to sit back on your own and find who you are. Can’t nobody make you do anything. Can’t nobody go out there and handle the pressure of different situations and then make choices that you have to make in your everyday life but you. I mean you can take that knowledge that you have been blessed with from all of these different people that you respect from God as well, now you have got to put it in your everyday life to put it in yourself to get back so I did that. I stayed patient. I took all of the hatred and everybody saying this about me. I wasn’t even talking. I just kept my mouth closed and said, ‘That there is going to be a time again where I am going to be able to get back on that football and in front of the cameras and let them know that everything that you were saying about me is not true. I took it upon myself and built my character and built… My craft got better, my football, I paid attention more and did what it takes for when it was about that time for God to bless me and put that ball back in my hands again and show the whole world who I am.”
What his relationship was with Steve McNair and what Steve meant to him:
“A lot of people ask me that question, ‘Who was that main person who I go to or talk to or try to get some advice from?’ I don’t really have one particular person. I have so many people that I care about and love that feel the same way about me that I have been taking notes from since I was a little kid. Ever since I have been sixteen or seventeen years old me and my brothers didn’t ever hang around our age group. We always hung around someone that is older. From uncles to Coach Seals to Steve McNair and his family and his brothers. That is what showed people that they cared about me and I took it as a position to every time that I am with them guys I am paying attention and asking questions, as well as my family. The women in my family, for a bad boy like me, to run across the streets to raise me and to go out there and get my own switch off of the tree…”
Why the fans booing him disappointed him so much:
“Because I ain’t never experienced that before. The things that I do for my fans is ridiculous. I see a lot of people, icons, that don’t do period… I have been around, Steve McNair from Snoop Dogg…to so many people man, that Michael Jordan. To see these guys and the type of status that they are and how they are with their fans, they are just very respectful: shake hands, hugs to autographs to all of that. I am looking ay myself growing up seeing this and I am like I want to be similar to that in some sort of way. Once I had dedicated and said, ‘OK.’ I had to look at the bigger picture to why fans are like that towards me. Because they love how I am as a person and how I am as an athlete. Once I had got that into my head, that I felt like the fans cared about me just like they feel about me and my home and things like that. I thought that is how they felt about me but when that happened that day when I got booed, they let me down a whole lot because I felt like I was out there for my teammates and coaches as well as my fans giving it 110%. Hurt, injured, whatever it is and when that happened it killed me inside because I thought about my fans. They care about me a whole lot and I was struggling a little bit. I thought they could understand but they still wanted to win this game. At the same time it happened it kind of hurted me a whole lot.”
What he learned about himself while he was the backup:
“Got to go out there and be Vince. Don’t worry about everybody else. You are not going to be able to make everybody happy and when I seen that and got the chance to mature and get more ordinary and understand the business and understand the game and understand that everybody is not going to like you. When I took that upon myself I kind of got back into who I saw and the guy that got me here, the things that I was doing to get myself here and start focusing more on that and stop focusing on the media. Stop focusing on the fans and how they felt about me. That was my least worries. I put that way over there somewhere and then start focusing on what I need to do to get back to where I was, on top, and try to lead my teammates to a Super Bowl and that is what I have been doing lately.”
Whether he feels he has been vindicated with his performance in the second half of last season:
“I still got some guys. They are going to be on my head again this year trying to see how I am going to start the season, how I am going to finish the season. Right now I am getting my body prepared for that. I am getting my mind prepared for that because I already know how it is about to be for myself. It is going to be like that for the rest of my career, but like I always be telling everybody, like if I get to the point with my teammates and we win a Super Bowl, they not going to bother me any more. Not like that. Not like they always going to be but right now I have got to be ready for that at all times… It keeps my strong though.
Where he is at mentally going into this next season:
“Focused just focused. The same thing that I did last year even more, even more better because I have more understanding and more knowledge that during that season and what I have and what my coach has gave me now he has the time as he don’t have to go into it like he did last year. He started the season with Collins so he was building up the offense around him. Now he is doing that building the offense around me and when I get in the offense with him to get more comfortable.