A Man Called ‘Pops’!!!!

By Yolande Lezine, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 6, 2009

HOUSTON — As a young kid, Vince Young used to love watching the Miami Dolphins. He loved playing for the Dolphins Little League football team in his neighborhood, and loved wearing the orange and blue jersey.

Vince went on to become a super athlete and the potential for greatness was seen early when he was at Dowling Middle School in Southwest Houston. Young started gettting into trouble at school and was headed to disaster until Coach Ivory Young called on a former Alcorn State teammate.

Coach Young called former Houston Oilers quarterback Steve McNair and told him about a teen who was in trouble, and seemed to be headed for gangs and drugs.

“Vince Young meet Steve “Air” McNair”! McNair took the time to be a mentor to Vince Young. Vince attended his football camps and went to him for advice.

Young got to meet Steve and see him do great things both on and off the field. But what touched Young most was how giving McNair was. McNair gave Young one of his Pro Bowl jerseys and sent him clothes and shoes throughout his collegiate career.

He was only a phone call away.

The relationship was so strong that Steve looked at Vince as a son. He could relate to the fact that both of them had their fathers leave out of their lives at an early age. Vince called him “Pops” and he can’t believe that “Pops” is gone.

“I’m still in shock since hearing the news,” Young said.

“I spent all Saturday afternoon and night thinking about my life on and off the field with “Pops”.”

“Since I was a teenager, he was like a father to me. I hear his advice in my head with everything I do. Life will be very different without him.”

Yes, life will be different for Young without McNair. He was there to help Young learn how to become a better quarterback on the field, and how to give back off the field.

He took Vince under his wing and took him around his family and showed him what things could be like if he stayed focus and made it to the NFL. McNair even sat in on the home visit for Young when University of Texas Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown came calling to meet the entire Young Family.

Steve sat right next to me as we asked tons of questions about Vince’s future at Texas. He made trips to Austin and even watched him in the Rose Bowl when Texas beat USC to win the National Championship.

McNair was only a phone call away. He was among Young’s inner-circle when it came time to decide whether to stay with the Longhorns for his senior season or leave early for the NFL after the 2005 season.

Like so many others, Young is having a hard time dealing with the news of the death of the former Titans quarterback. He was vacationing in Mexico when he got the news.

He had hoped to play alongside McNair in the NFL. Tennessee did draft Young with the third overall pick in 2006 (just like the then Houston Oilers did with “Air” years earlier), but the Titans traded McNair to the Baltimore Ravens.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Mechelle, the kids and the entire McNair family during this horrible time.”

“Pops” may be gone, but the impact that he made on Vince Young’s life and others will last forever!