Young needs space, 'love and support,' mother says

Updated: September 11, 2008, 10:49 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The mother of Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young said he's "hurting inside and out" and indicated he might not want to play football any longer.

Felicia Young said in Wednesday editions of The Tennessean that her son is tired of all of the negativity he's faced after being booed during a 17-10 win Sunday over Jacksonville.

"What would you think, if you were tired of being ridiculed and persecuted and talked about and not being treated very well, what would you do? What kind of decision would you make?" Felicia Young said. "He may not want to deal with it [all], but you have to get to that point before you make that decision first.

"But we're not talking about football right now. We're talking about what would make him happy, and that is the most important thing."

Young was the subject of a four-hour search Monday night by Nashville police, who were called by Titans coach Jeff Fisher after Young's family members expressed concern about Young's "emotional well-being," according to police.

Titanic Struggles

Since 2006, no NFL quarterback with at least 500 attempts has a lower passer rating than Vince Young.

Quarterback Rating
Vince Young 68.3
Alex Smith 69.4
Rex Grossman 71.5
Joey Harrington 72.5

Vince Young's agent, Major Adams, told ESPN reporter George Smith that he didn't know why the story has taken on a life of its own.

Adams said he called Young's friend's house after hearing that Young was missing. Adams said the quarterback was upbeat and watching the Monday night games, and confirmed that Young was without his cell phone.

As for reports about depression or Young's fragile emotional state, Adams told Smith they're "unfounded."

"It's the first time I've heard that. I know he's not battling depression," Adams said. "He's fine mentally. I think it's a misunderstanding and misinformation."

This isn't the first time that Young has talked of wanting to quit football. He told a reporter last spring that he thought of retiring after his rookie season, a statement he said later was taken out of context.

The No. 3 pick overall in the 2006 draft, Young won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and followed up by helping the Titans reach the playoffs last season with a 10-6 record. But he has been criticized for his passing struggles after having only nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2007.

His mental state has been in question since he was booed Sunday after his second interception during the Jacksonville game. He didn't want to go back into the game until prodded by coach Jeff Fisher.

Norm Chow, Young's former offensive coordinator with the Titans and now the offensive coordinator at UCLA, told ESPN that he hopes this recent controversy involving the quarterback is being blown out of proportion. He did say though, that Young needs to control his emotions.

Chow told ESPN that Young "takes things too personally," and that he "got on him" when he was his coach. "He lets his emotions get to him," he said.

He sprained his left medial collateral ligament four plays later and could be out for up to four weeks. Fisher said Tuesday night he is ruling Young out for only Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

But Young didn't go to the team's offices Monday and postponed his MRI exam until Tuesday. He met with a psychologist, along with Fisher and another team official, at his home Monday.

Four hours of uncertainty followed Monday night when Young left his home without his phone, prompting someone at his home to call Fisher. Fisher, in turn, called police to help find the quarterback.

When he was finally found, Young agreed to meet with Fisher and police at the team's training facility, after which Young drove himself home.

Felicia Young said they are going to give her son some space.

"It is hard, all he is going through right now. He's hurting inside and out," she told The Tennessean.

"But he will be fine if people are prayerful and help my baby boy out. He is a young man. He just needs a lot of love and support."

Young reported to work on Wednesday, watched part of practice with a wrap around his sprained left knee and avoided reporters wanting to talk about his mother's comments.

Young was booed in 2004 while in college when Texas was shut out by Oklahoma, and he was benched for the second half of a win over Missouri the next week. He responded by never losing another game.

"Anybody that knows Vince knows how competitive he is," Texas coach Mack Brown said Wednesday. "He has a very high standard for himself. When he doesn't feel like he reached that standard at that moment, he does get disappointed.

"But he's fine. He's moving forward. He's been booed before. He's been criticized before. His worst moment here was his best moment because after he played so poorly against Missouri he never lost another game."

Fisher and teammates are sticking with their quarterback, too. And no, Young doesn't have to prove his commitment to either Fisher or his teammates.

"He led us to the playoffs last year. We just want him to get healthy and back on the field," Fisher said.

Young stood with linebacker Keith Bulluck and former college teammate Michael Griffin for part of practice. Bulluck said he knows Young is fine after speaking with him. The best way they can help the quarterback? Go beat Cincinnati on Sunday.

Bulluck said he's seen Donovan McNabb and Steve McNair get down after losses, something that goes with the pressures of being the quarterback. He expressed his confidence that Young will take the good and the bad of his position.

"That's just things quarterbacks go through. They probably wear red shirts for a reason. They're a little more sensitive than any position on the field," Bulluck joked before becoming serious. "... Being his third year I'm sure he has a lot on his plate like we all do. I know he'll rebound, and we'll be all right. That's why I'm saying that the situation will take care of itself."

Center Kevin Mawae called Young still a leader whose teammates trust and believe in him.

"Anything that happens outside the locker room will be outside the realm of football, that's something that's between him and his family and whoever's handling that with him," Mawae said.

The quarterback didn't talk to reporters, but Fisher did promise Young will speak "at some point."

Fisher said the starter's job remains Young's, but added that the quarterback has some work to do.

"He has to put some things back in perspective, and first and foremost has to get healthy," Fisher said.

Information from ESPN reporter George Smith and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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