That night, the Titans were scared that Young, 25, was going to kill himself.
The day after getting booed and then injured in the Titans' opener, Young — the third pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2006, owner of a $58 million contract ($25 million up front) and a playoff appearance — was armed and missing.
According to a Nashville Metro Police report from that night, an officer responding to a call from the Titans head of security was told by Titans head coach Jeff Fisher that Young’s therapist “was worried about (Young).”
The officer's report went on, detailing more concerns for Young.
“I asked him (Fisher), ‘What made her worry about him?’ He stated, ‘His mood, his emotions, he is injured, he wants to quit, and he mentioned suicide several times.’ He (Fisher) went on to state that he (Young) left the house with a gun,” the officer’s report states.
First-round money, first-round pressure
Since 1998, 30 quarterbacks have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
The combined value of their rookie contracts: $1.086 billion. The combined amount of guaranteed money they received: $340 million. The combined number of Super Bowl wins they have produced? Three, all in the past three seasons: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in 2005, Peyton Manning in 2006 and Eli Manning in 2007.
Roethlisberger, the Manning brothers and the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb are arguably the only unqualified first-round successes that the past 11 drafts yielded. Several have been spectacular failures, such as Ryan Leaf or Akili Smith.
There are myriad reasons so many of them turned out to be disappointments. Some weren’t that good to begin with. Most were wedded to horrible teams and thrown into the fire too quickly. But the common thread connecting the stories of the ones who didn’t fulfill expectations is that they had their spirits broken.
“You’re not equipped for that roller coaster. You can say, ‘Don’t read the paper and don’t watch TV and stay mentally tough,’ but it takes its toll,” he said.
Vince Young was ultimately found safe at a friend’s house. His mother, Felicia, told the Nashville Tennesseean that her son was “hurting inside and out.”
She added, “What would you think, if you were tired of being ridiculed and persecuted and talked about and not being treated very well, what would you do? What kind of decision would you make?”
Even Joe Montana wouldn't win on a bad team
“Pray that one does not enjoy success before one can endure success.”
That, said Dallas Cowboys consultant Calvin Hill, is an English proverb he cites often in dealing with young NFL players.
The 61-year-old Hill has unique perspective. In 1969, he was the Cowboys’ first-round pick and the NFL Rookie of the Year. He’s also the father of NBA star Grant Hill, the 1994 NBA Rookie of the Year and a player assumed capable of succeeding Michael Jordan as the face of the NBA. Grant Hill never reached that level.
Calvin Hill has felt the pressure of expectations himself. He’s seen it applied to his son. And he now counsels players on dealing with it.
“Endurance is something you get over time,” said Hill. “You need to develop the ability to handle things emotionally and psychologically. There’s incredible scrutiny because of the way the game and the way it’s covered has changed. How does a young player handle it?”
That’s precisely the question that teams considering quarterbacks in the first round keep trying — and failing — to adequately answer.
But NFL analysts continually circle back to two prime reasons for the failures of quarterbacks. First, the teams they go to are bad. Second, the quarterbacks are rushed onto the field where they are force-fed failure.
“Why do you draft a quarterback in the first round with a top 10 pick?” asked Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, an eyewitness to the most spectacular flameout of a first-round quarterback, San Diego’s Ryan Leaf in 1998 when Harrison was a Charger.
“Because you haven’t had any production in that area. And if you haven’t had any production, the team’s not very good either. So all these guys are being asked to save the team at 21 or 22 years old, and it’s too much pressure on them.”
That pressure applies to every quarterback, especially those stuck on losing teams.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
In many cases, the people putting first-round quarterbacks in the line of fire early in the players’ careers are under extreme pressure too. Generally speaking, coaches and general managers who take a quarterback in the first round are lower-tier teams with disgruntled fan bases.
“For both quarterbacks and coaches, the pressure is similar: Win now,” said agent Joe Linta, who represents Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco, the 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft. (Flacco is currently the Ravens’ starter since veteran Kyle Boller landed on injured reserve). “It’s a league where you’re constantly being asked, ‘What have you done for me lately? How many years can we wait? How long will this take?’”
This week in Cleveland, the 0-3 Browns are considering benching starter Derek Anderson and putting in Brady Quinn, a 2007 first-rounder. Coach Romeo Crennel is under fire because the Browns have playoff expectations. And Browns GM Phil Savage is close enough to feel the heat as well.
But are the Browns’ problems strictly quarterback related? Is Quinn being fed to the wolves in a panic move that may ultimately retard his development and only intensify the pressure on Crennel and Savage?
Quinn, of course, welcomes the opportunity if it comes. First-round flameouts such as Joey Harrington, David Carr, Tim Couch and Alex Smith all did as well.
CSN: The Super Bowl's golden anniversary will be held in the Golden State. The new stadium, which opens in 2014, in Santa Clara will host Super Bowl L two years later, the NFL announced Tuesday.
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