Can Titans rely on Vince Young?

I can’t wait to hear what Bud Adams has to say now.


The Tennessee Titans owner has publicly boasted that it was his decision to put Vince Young back on the field last season.

So how does the quarterback repay that show of support? By embarrassing his 87-year-old benefactor with a citation for misdemeanor assault early Sunday morning at a Dallas strip club.

Young will have his day in court to explain why he punched another man in the face during a skirmish caught on security video. Young, though, is already guilty of horrific judgment and the same kind of immaturity that landed him on the bench in the first place.

Going to someplace like Club Onyx Dallas – the self-proclaimed “largest urban gentlemen’s club in the south” offering private parties “for the average Joe or the hottest ball player in the game” – isn’t a crime in and of itself. But of all people, a former teammate of Adam "Pacman" Jones should know this isn’t the kind of place someone with such a high profile should be patronizing. Trouble can be found inside these types of establishments even if you’re not looking for it.

Young left the scene before police arrived and didn’t immediately issue a statement about what happened. Adams also hasn’t publicly addressed the situation. Citing a police source, Dallas television station KDAF-TV reported that Young became upset when a club employee made disparaging remarks about the University of Texas accompanied with an upside-down “Hook ’em Horns” salute.

For the record, Young is 27 years old.

This isn’t the first time Young displayed public behavior that is unacceptable from the most important leadership position on any football team. Type his name into a Google search and the first images that appear show a shirtless Young chugging tequila from a bottle at a club in 2008. A year later, Young tastelessly channeled his inner Pacman by “making it rain” with a wad of dollar bills he threw into the crowd at a Nelly concert.

Toss in this latest incident and I imagine Young’s next excursion will be to a spot where the champagne doesn’t flow freely: Club Roger in New York City.

Under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, a conviction isn’t necessary for discipline or a summons to league headquarters. On the Dan Patrick radio show, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell cited a “pattern of behavior” and “bad judgments” before suspending Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games. Goodell later said Roethlisberger was guilty of conduct that “undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs or players.”

The sexual assault allegations against Roethlisberger were certainly far more serious than the charge Young is facing. Young, though, can be disciplined for what Goodell described in his letter to Roethlisberger as actions that impose “inherent danger to the safety and well-being of another person.”

We could soon be witnessing the kind of NFL history that Goodell never wanted under his watch. If he levies a multi-game suspension against Young, both starting quarterbacks will be sidelined for conduct violations when Pittsburgh plays at Tennessee in Week 2.

Even if Young gets a pass as a first-time offender, this is another sad episode for a player who seemed to have turned a corner both personally and professionally. Young needed to reinvent himself after a 2008 meltdown. He begged out of the season opener against Jacksonville and was so despondent afterward that Titans officials were concerned about a possible suicide attempt. Even when he returned after recovering from a minor knee injury, Titans coach Jeff Fisher kept Young out and stuck with Kerry Collins. Tennessee went 13-3 with the journeyman under center as Young pouted behind the scenes about his lack of playing time.

His work ethic and attitude gradually improved, but it took an Adams order for Fisher to reinsert Young into the starting lineup after last year’s 0-6 start. Young then stunned the NFL by once again showcasing the talent that help him lead Texas to a national championship and win the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Tennessee won eight of its final 10 games. He regained the trust of teammates who had questioned his commitment. Once again, Young was following in the footsteps of his mentor – the late Steve McNair.

And then this weekend happens.

There was already enough pressure on Fisher as it is. Star running back Chris Johnson is threatening a holdout without a new contract. The defense needs improvement after a No. 28 ranking in 2009. And Adams told The Tennessean in April that he expects a playoff berth.

“It’s going to be up to coach Fisher to get the job done,” Adams said.

The task becomes much harder when you can’t rely upon your quarterback to use common sense.