AUSTIN, Texas -- Vince Young, who is trying to catch on with the NFL’s read-option fad and resurrect his career, didn’t run Tuesday as part of his workout at Texas’ pro day.
Come to think of it, the former Longhorns quarterback did run -- right away from the media.
“I’m going to talk all of next week,” Young said as he pushed his way out of Texas’ indoor practice facility surrounded by media from Houston, Dallas, Austin and the NFL Network.
Instead, Young, on a day he wanted to show he was ready to be back in a professional league that leverages marketing and media better than any other, had someone talk for him. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“He’s grown up and matured so much,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He’s at a different stage of his life.”
Young is about to exit stage left from football if it doesn’t work this time.
“All I hope is that if someone gives him a chance, and I think they should, is that he understands that this is the last hurrah,” said Gil Brandt, the longtime Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel who now works for NFL Network. “He has to do and say and outwork everybody.”
As for the work Young put in Tuesday, he threw the ball 50 to 60 times. Most were good. A few were behind. A few were too tall. But all were to receivers with no NFL catches. It might have made sense -- given that this, as Brandt said, is Young’s last shot -- to bring in an NFL wide receiver. After all, if you’re taking your last lap around life you want to do it in a Porsche.
But, then again, NFL scouts have seen Young throw in the actual NFL. They know what he can do with a football. He was in the Pro Bowl twice. The mystery remains whether he has the mental acumen and leadership skills to handle the rigors of the job.
Brandt suggested the NFL’s move from convoluted signal and play calls (“red right, slant 49, new, G-O,” Brandt used as an example) to simpler forms of communication -- calls are now made with states as codes such as Alabama or cities, San Antonio, he said -- Young would have an easier time grasping the concepts and communicating them to the team.
Obviously, given the previously described scene with the media, communication is not Young’s strong suit. Brandt brushed that off by saying the media would have asked “stupid” questions.
Yeah, like what happened to that $26 million in guaranteed money? And that is a serious factor. It’s almost implausible to believe someone who has amassed enough money to buy/run a billion-dollar franchise would allow someone who has squandered $26 million in less than a decade to be the face of that franchise.
But, as Brown pointed out: “They want to win. And he hasn’t got any bad legal issues. He’s working out some things through the courts with his finances, but other than that I think he has moved through that.”
At the least he has served as a cautionary tale for Texas’ latest players.
“That is something we talk to them about all the time and Vince has been able to talk to a lot of our guys about his situation and that has been helpful as well,” Brown said.
In truth, that appears to have helped Young, too. At 29, by outward appearances and actions, he does appear to be maturing.
It might be too late. And it might be too slow. But he is taking classes at Texas. He is on schedule to graduate in May. He is married with a 2-year-old son, Jordan. He is giving his time at charity functions, including an event this weekend for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. And he is also back at Texas, in the fold and protected.
“He was struggling, and life can be tough out there, and he is adored here,” Brown said. “He was very successful here and he has given us something that a lot of people couldn’t and that’s a national championship as a quarterback. I wanted him to be around people that cared about him, and it’s got him back on track I think.”
Now all Young has to do is prove he can survive life outside the bubble that is Texas and its myriad image-makers and handlers. Next week, if Young does indeed talk, might be the very first step.