Young upset with injury, not football

Published 12:22 pm Friday, September 12, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans quarterback Vince Young insists he never wavered in his commitment to football.

All that concern over his mental state? He says he was upset as he dealt with his first serious injury, and he didn’t realize he had to tell his mother where he was going anymore.

Then the media went overboard.

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Young spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since Titans coach Jeff Fisher called police for help in locating the quarterback Monday night because of concerns over his emotional well-being. His mother, Felicia Young, also told a local newspaper that the quarterback had indicated he didn’t want to play football anymore because of all the negativity he faced.

‘‘I was never depressed,’’ Young said.

He took questions from reporters for 16 minutes after watching his teammates practice. His message? Don’t question his commitment.

‘‘Football, this is my life. This is my dream. All I did all these years growing up to get to this point and never had an injury like this before in my life,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a hard time because I’m a competitor, and I definitely want to be out on the football field with my teammates.’’

Questions about his mental state and attitude started Sunday when the third-year quarterback was booed heavily by fans upset at his second interception, and he appeared as if he didn’t want to return to the game.

Fisher pulled his headset off and talked to him before the quarterback joined the rest of the offense.

Four plays later, Young sprained his left medial collateral ligament when Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith crashed into his left knee.

Young didn’t go to the Titans’ headquarters Monday, and Fisher went to his quarterback’s house. The Titans also sent a psychologist and another team official to talk with Young. He was described as being emotionally down. Young said Thursday that lasted half a day and he was upset over his two interceptions.

Fisher told Young to go take the MRI exam needed to determine the extent of the damage to his knee. Young didn’t go. But with so many people at his house, Young said, he needed space to think.

‘‘Let the cloud go away for a minute, and that’s what I did. I left. My mom seen me; she thought I wasn’t in my right mind. At the same time, I was watching the game, watching Aaron Rodgers do his things … eating some hot wings,’’ Young said.

The quarterback said he didn’t realize he had to tell his mother where he was going.

‘‘Even though you’re paying your own bills at your own house, you still got to tell your mama where you are going now. So I understand where my mama’s coming from. She wanted to know where I’m going because I didn’t take my cell phone because so many people were calling me and making sure I’m all right,’’ he said.

Those comments from his mother about his not wanting to play? Young blamed the media.

‘‘She know I don’t want to leave football. She knows I love this game. She’s the one that put me in this game. I’m here. I’m ready to play, but right now I’m rehabbing,’’ he said.

Young didn’t talk about the police, including crisis negotiators, waiting for him at the Titans’ headquarters when he arrived to talk with Fisher nor what they discussed. He thanked the franchise for being behind him.

As far as his injured knee, Young said only that it is sore and he is working hard to heal up. He won’t rush back too soon for fear of aggravating the injury.

The Titans have listed him as out for Sunday’s game at Cincinnati and have given no timetable for how long he might be sidelined. Young walked stiffly with a black wrap around his knee and promised he is arriving for treatment around 6:30 a.m.

He missed one game in 2007 with a strained quadriceps muscle, came back a week later and wasn’t the same the rest of the season.

Fisher said Young is doing fine.

‘‘First and foremost is getting his knee back, taking care of his treatment and getting his mind back in football,’’ the coach said.

Helping Young do that have been his mentor, Steve McNair, and quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb. Young said he also will sit down with teammate Kerry Collins for advice.

All those boos? The right of fans paying hard-earned money to watch, part of the territory of being an NFL quarterback.

Young plans to answer his critics once he’s back on the field.

‘‘If I ever change and turn my back on this game or turn my back on anything like that, I’m letting down a whole lot of people,’’ he said. ‘‘And I definitely don’t want to do that because they love me for what I’m doing, and I love doing it for them.’’