Vince Young had done almost everything right since Tennessee owner Bud Adams gave him his job back last fall.
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Now he’s busy explaining – and apologizing – for an incident at a Dallas strip club. Even his coach is wondering if Young’s poor decision will be another setback.
"I’d like to think he’s learned a lesson, had no business making the decision that he made and obviously he’s got to deal with those consequences,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. "I can’t comment any further. The league will look into it. The commissioner is very strict about these type of things, and I’m sure we’ll hear from him after we get more information.”
Young apologized to the Titans, his teammates, his family and fans for his role in a fight early Sunday morning. Young said he hopes commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t come down hard on him with a suspension because he has owned up to his mistake.
The Titans’ second game of the 2010 season Sept. 19 is against Pittsburgh, which will be without Ben Roethlisberger because of his own suspension.
Young was in Dallas Sunday for an autograph session. He said he was headed back to his hotel when he decided to go out on the town with a friend. They went to Club Onyx, which Young said was a bad decision.
"Just made a mistake, made a mistake even being there and let that guy provoke me into doing what I did,” Young told reporters after a Titans offseason practice. "Fell into his hands, what he wanted me to do so he could do what he’s doing now. At the same time, let my lawyers take care of it.”
Surveillance video footage released by Dallas police show the quarterback and several people talking in a small room before Young attacked someone in the room. Young left before police arrived, but he spoke with officers around 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. He received a misdemeanor assault citation with a fine up to $500, and the NFL is looking into the case.
Young returned to Nashville in time to pinch-hit late in coach Jeff Fisher’s charity softball game, and he was back on the field Monday as the Titans begin to wrap up its offseason with six team sessions ending June 25. Young planned to talk with Fisher sometime Monday afternoon, but he insisted he’s completely focused on football.
"We’ve got a team goal right now like we want to finish a season in Dallas in the Super Bowl. Right now like y’all see me today still had a good practice, got back to work,” Young said.
It was a busy day for the Titans as linebacker Stephen Tulloch signed his one-year tender hours before a deadline and the team announced linebacker Gerald McRath has been suspended for the first four games of the season. Chris Johnson continued his holdout in his pursuit of more money after running for 2,006 yards last season.
Fisher also said cornerback Rod Hood, who had been competing for an open starting job, tore an ACL on Friday to end his season.
But it was Young who found himself talking with reporters first, explaining the latest incident in the up-and-down career for the quarterback taken No. 3 overall in the 2006 draft after leading Texas to a national championship. Young is back as the starter, returned to the starting lineup after the team’s 0-6 start last season. He went 8-2 and now is 26-13 overall.
He has been working this offseason to better establish himself as the franchise quarterback and become a more effective team leader in his fifth NFL season.
Young said the person who provoked him did make a downward Longhorns sign that was disrespectful. He said more went on, but he wouldn’t go into any further details. Asked what would happen if he broke his throwing hand with a punch, Young said it wasn’t a punch but a push.
Despite his poor decision, Young said he has matured.
He said he is handling this situation differently than when he was injured in the 2008 season opener. During that game he had been booed after being intercepted twice and apparently refused to go back into the game before being hurt. The next day police were called to search for him when his mother worried about how he was handling the injury.
He lost his starting job to Kerry Collins after the injury, and the Titans went 13-3 with Young on the bench.
"I didn’t know how to handle it at first. I’m more accustomed to it now. I made my mistake. I’m owning up to my mistake,” Young said.
His teammates support Young, but some had not seen the video of the incident. Fullback Ahmard Hall said Texas Longhorns often are hassled by Oklahoma fans when visiting Dallas.
Fisher is disappointed how Young handled the situation. The coach had to discuss the incident Sunday night trying to raise money for charity, including Nashville flood victims.
"He’s walking on his own on this one,” Fisher said. "This was a decision he made. It was not a good decision. He’s not one that typically does this, but he put himself in a bad situation and we just move on.”
Notes: Tulloch faced a midnight deadline to sign his $2.5 million tender or have his offer trimmed to $588,000, 110 percent of his pay last season. Fisher said he doesn’t know yet if that means the starting middle linebacker will return.