Young: ‘I wasn’t going to quit’

By Jim Wyatt
Updated: May 30, 2008

NASHVILLE — Vince Young felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders last offseason.

Having just been named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, the Titans quarterback was getting tugged in different directions. Some people were asking for money, others for time he didn’t have.

He admitted it was nearly overwhelming and that he wished it would all go away. Except for football.

“I was never going to quit football,” Young said Thursday during Steve McNair’s annual football camp at Goodpasture. “Football, that is my pride and joy, it is my dream. I am playing my dream. And I don’t plan on giving that up any time soon.”

A recent report suggesting he considered retirement after one season was “blown out of proportion,” Young said. Heading toward his third pro season, he said he’s in a “much different place” mentally than he was at this time last year.

“Oh, my God. Oh, my God. I ain’t never said I was going to quit football,” Young said. “There was a lot of stuff going on in my life, but football is not hard to me. Football is easy. All you have to do is be coachable and use your God-given talent. If it was a thought at all it was just a passing thought for a second.”

Responsibility and expectations

Frustrations grew from the off-field pressures that come with being an NFL quarterback, and those were the things he wanted to escape, Young said. He wished he could be like Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and just not talk to the media at all.

“When you retire, a lot of stuff goes away, people calling you and asking you for things. Some people say things about you that you don’t like, and a lot of that stuff was killing me inside,” Young said. “I am trying to be a role model and be a good citizen and have fun with my friends. Things were so fuzzy (that) I could hardly see through it all.”

McNair, who has been close to Young for years and recently retired from the NFL after a 13-year career, said such feelings aren’t unique to NFL players.

“Coming into this league it is a lot of responsibility and people expect a lot out of you, and if you don’t live up to peoples’ expectations you feel like you failed them. You feel like this is not for me, I need to step back and do something else,” McNair said.

“But Vince loves the game of football and I think at that point maybe it was a little frustration, a little pressure from who knows where. … Only Vince knows what he was going through. We all go through it. We all go through it in life. But Vince is going to go through it and he is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league.”

Different mentality

Young, who turned 25 earlier this month, arrived at Goodpasture wearing McNair’s No. 9 Titans jersey and led a group of teens at the early stages of learning the game.

Perhaps he told the youngsters about the importance of teammates, like those Titans who helped him deal with his frustrations last offseason.

They’ve been there for Young this offseason, too. A recent trip overseas with linebacker Keith Bulluck provided relaxation and fun. They visited Barcelona and Berlin, and spent some time with defensive lineman Ulrich Winkler, a Munich native who was on the Titans’ practice squad last season.

“It was nice,” Young said. “And being away, it just let me know how blessed I am. I am going to try and not get mad anymore. I am not going to get stressed. I am just going to have fun.”

Titans quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson said Young seems like a different person mentally compared to last year.

“It is night and day,” Johnson said. “Right now he understands the big picture. He’s had two years of success. He has been able to lead his team to the playoffs and he has always had this little chip on his shoulder because so many people have told him what he can’t do and he has proven that he can. Now he wants to prove he can do it, and now he wants to take our team to the playoffs and win a championship.”

And as for when he might retire, Young said there’s no timetable.

“My goal is to win three or four Super Bowls,” he said. “So however long it takes to get them.”