When Vince Young was drafted by the Titans in April 2006, he looked forward to the opportunity to play with the man he called “Pops.”e have to live with it. I think
they are happy, and I am happy.”
“The perfect scenario would have been me coaching Vince for a couple of years, then letting him take over, but that wasn’t the situation,” McNair once said.
But there would be no transition period, no baton-passing from the third overall pick in 1995 to the third overall pick of eleven years later. The Titans had locked McNair out of the facility in order to avoid a season-ending injury that would have guaranteed a high-dollar salary, which then would have triggered an enormous salary cap hit.
McNair pursued via the Collective Bargaining Agreement a ruling that the team must let him in or cut him loose. Eventually, he prevailed, with Titans subsequently trading McNair to Baltimore.
And so McNair played two more years, but not as Young’s mentor. Given the current status of Young’s career, perhaps that would have been a more prudent approach.
Either way, Young has been significantly affected by McNair’s passing.
“I’m still in shock since hearing the news yesterday,” Young said in comments released by the Titans.
“I spent all 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.”
Hopefully for Young, he’ll follow the example that McNair set, adopting the kind of drive and determination that allowed him to play even when he could barely walk.
Indeed, Young’s best chance to salvage his career might come from dedicating the rest of it to McNair — and then pursuing the craft of playing quarterback exactly like McNair did.