Cards: UT Upper Deck 2011, UT Upper Deck 2011 Memorable Moments x3, UT Upper Deck 2011 ATA, Score 2009, Pacific 2009, Upper Deck 2009
Acquired: In Person 2013, GMC NFL Texas Event
See Also: Vince Young (2)
You pretty much have to live in Texas to understand the mystique of Vince Young. An electrifying player for the Longhorns who shattered USC’s chokehold on the National Championship, Young had this ability to come alive and just control games when it counted most. Already a deadly scrambler Vince battled Chance Mock early on for playing time before taking the reins over fulltime for UT in 2004. VY rushed for 998 yards and 11 TDs that year, while throwing for 1,155 yards and 6 TDs. He’d earn Rose Bowl Player of the Game Honors for his heroics against Michigan. In his breathtaking 2005 season Young threw for 3,036 yards and 26 TDs. Again, he missed the 1,000 yard plateau rushing with 993 yards and 12 TDs, leading Texas to an 11-0 record. He’d be rightfully robbed of the Heisman honor, – that went to Reggie Bush, who later admitted to taking funds and favors from potential agents. Young in the meantime beat Bush and Leinart in the National Championship that year earning Rose Bowl player of the game honors, with 200 yards rushing and 267 yards passing. He’s one of a select few players to win 2 Rose Bowl Player of the Game Honors. His 30-2 record was the best in UT history (leaving the offense in capable hands of his protege Colt McCoy who broke his record). At the time of his departure Vince held many other offensive and combined offense National and Texas records.
VY declared for the draft after his Junior season. The 2006 draft was considered one of the richest of the Modern Era since 1986. With new head coach Gary Kubiak putting David Carr on an incredibly short leash, the city of Houston and the Young family hoped that the Texans would exercise the first pick of the draft on Vince. Although respectfully considered by the franchise, the team in the end chose North Carolina defensive end Mario Williams over Vince Young and Reggie Bush. The city erupted with anger at the pick, as New Orleans ran to the podium to snag Bush with the second choice, but the nightmare had just begun. With the 3rd pick of the NFL draft, the Tennessee Titans (that former team referred to as the HOUSTON Oilers) drafted Vince Young. It was the worst case scenario for the Houston Texans.
In the meantime, Young settled into his new role playing for the Titans. Immediately controversy brewed as the Titans traded starter Steve McNair to the Baltimore Ravens, while beneath the surface a rift over control began to fester between owner Bud Adams and head coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher didn’t want Young, but Adams made the call. Still Young steadied the ship, and improved the fares of the Titans, while the Texans appeared to be lost at sea. He’d make the Texans pay for not drafting him and be named Rookie of the Year after breaking the NFL rookie QB rushing record with 552 yards, and leading the Titans to wins in two 14 point comebacks and a Pro Bowl appearance. Around Houston Adams was making new converts of the Houston masses, both new and old. Even in Austin where the Cowboys were losing grasp of an ever wavering fan base and the Texans were making little ground, the local affiliates ceased carrying Texans games to show Vince in Tennessee. It was truly dark days for Texans fans.
In 2007 some of the tension began to mount between Fisher and Vince. Vince was benched during the preseason for breaching an undisclosed team rule. (It turned out later he slipped out of the team hotel and went to his house to sleep before the game.) A slow start statistically to his season, combined with nicks and tears along the way, it was even more surprising that Young led the upstart Titans into the playoffs that season. The team however would lose in the first round.
Early into 2008, VY injured his knee, which opened the door to journeyman QB Kerry Collins (who had the hot hand at the time) to take over. Rightfully so the Titans finished at 12-4 and Young was decidedly backing up Collins. This caused Vince much distress as fans were merciless with him. He briefly went missing as other rumors were also tossed around. Eventually he was found with the help of Coach Fisher, but things were about to go from bad to worse for Vince.
As 2009 rolled around, Jeff Fisher was quoted as saying that, “Vince would have to earn the backup job.” You see there was a knock on VY and UT players going all the way back to their Austin days, that they were coddled by the media and team there. Furthermore in college more teams customized their offense to the players’ skill sets, as opposed to the pros where it was the other way around,- especially for quarterbacks. Things however backfired on Fisher, and the Titans stumbled out of the gate. Before the team could blink they were 0-6. Facing tremendous pressure, Fisher finally put Young back in to play. VY immediately rattled off 5 wins in a row. He’d earn the Comeback Player of the Year Award from one sporting publication, but was largely overshadowed by both Tom Brady and Carnell Williams. VY again went to the Pro Bowl.
Vince and Fisher were again living as ‘The Odd Couple’. Fisher said horrible things behind VY’s back that’d get leaked somehow publicly, and Young would just go out and prove him wrong. The 2010 season finally proved to be the breaking point between the two. Hovering at about .500, Young threw his football pads into the stands after a frustrating performance against the Washington Redskins, where he was yanked from the game with a broken thumb. After fighting with Fish in the locker room, -it was over and Young was benched for the remainder of the season. The Titans attempted to shop Young, but no team stepped up to trade for him, knowing that Tennessee would just have to jettison him. That they did, as the former Golden Boy from Texas with a 30-17 record for the Titans was kicked to the curb in early 2011.
VY floated around for a few months. Fans in Houston again briefly clamored for the Texans to sign him, but with the Texans riding high on their first division championship and Matt Schaub‘s play, there was no need to bring a former starter in to put pressure on Matt. In mid July Young signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, who had been making savvy moves in free agency and through the draft. It seemed to be the perfect landing spot for him, as he’d be learning the ropes from quarterback guru and head coach Andy Reid, while supporting starting quarterback Michael Vick. VY then made some casual comments, which were then channeled into the mainstream media. All of a sudden, Vince’s ‘Dream Team’ talk, made the Eagles bulletin board material for every team every week. The Eagles, stumbled, and Vick got injured. Young stepped in and led the team to a 1-2 record, but at the end of the season, he was not retained by the team. The Eagles were rebuilding.
Young signed with the Buffalo Bills in 2012, but did not make the final cut. The Cardinals briefly considered signing him during the regular season, but due to fan clamor against the signing, VY was not pursued. VY sat out the whole 2012 season before getting his wish to play again. The Green Bay Packers signed him in 2013, but again he’d not make the final roster. While there are plenty of burnouts and free agents out there who somehow make squads every year, Vince rarely is called. VY though remains an internet rumor lightning rod for teams looking for a quarterback to spice up their lineups or as a team’s starting quarterback injury replacement. The Alouettes claimed his rights, but Vince only kicked the tires on joining the CFL, – a league I think he could excel and refine his skills in. It also wouldn’t surprise me if he’s approached by the New USFL for the Texas franchise, if that ever gets off the ground.
I was really, really surprised to see VY’s name at the GMC Texas NFL autograph signing. I was even more surprised to get there in line about an hour early and still be 8th or 9th in line, but as the event began and Vince walked in, the queue blew out of the tent. I had test driven 8 cars that day just so that I could get as many autographs from Vince that I could. I split the 8 into 4 and handed them to my fiancee so that the signing was a more acceptable number. Calling me ‘big man’, he signed everything for both of us, much to my glee. Vince also had never seen his Red River Shootout Upper Deck card which he really liked. Vince called his agent over and he acted like he was going to run with it. We talked for a moment about his Houston Astros hat, and about his love of the HOUSTON Oilers, that he grew up on. He also loved this insane looking photo that I took with him. VY seemed upbeat. I hope that things like this make him happy and give him some closure (if he needs it) on his experience in the NFL.
Vince also recently went back to UT to complete his degree. He’s been quoted as saying (and I paraphrase), “That going back and finishing up his degree at UT gave him an even better feeling than winning the National Championship.
G/Gs 60/50 Att 1304 Comp 755 Yds 8964 Pct 57.9 Td 46 Int 51 Rat 74.4
Rush 282 Yds 1459 Avg 5.2 Td 12 lg 44