Bud Adams lives and works in Texas. He has for his entire life.
Obvious as that might be, it’s an important point in the context of this discussion because it means the Tennessee Titans’ owner — like virtually everyone else in the Lone Star State — has a vastly different view of Vince Young than most of the rest of the American sporting public.
I know this because I spent 12 years of my life in Texas. I have an abundance of family and friends who live there. Every time I’ve gone back since 2006 (the year Adams called for the selection of Young with the third overall pick in the NFL draft), one of the first questions I have been asked is why the Titans can’t seem to make it work with Vince Young.
Think about that for a moment: why the Titans can’t make it work.
To the average Texan, Vince Young is still that guy celebrating a BCS championship in Pasadena as confetti swirls in the sky above him. He remains the always-elusive quarterback who seemed to make magic every time he had the ball. There’s no question in the minds of those folks that Young has more than enough talent, drive and character to succeed in the NFL.
The fact that Adams could be convinced to cut ties with this same player speaks volumes.
We all know that Young never was going to be the second coming of Johnny Unitas or Joe Montana or Peyton Manning — or even Michael Vick. The fact is, most quarterbacks who make it to the NFL aren’t in the same class as those guys, but many find ways to make their respective abilities work for them.
We’re all well aware that Young pouted on the sidelines more than once over the past five seasons. We know he stormed out of the locker room following the last such incident, a Nov. 21 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins.
If that’s all it took to get a high-priced player removed from an NFL roster, Terrell Owens would have played for all 32 teams and started a second lap around the league by this point.
The issues with Young went beyond a suspect throwing motion or flawed footwork. They encompassed more than just an athletically gifted individual who believed he could do no wrong.
When team executives Steve Underwood and Mike Reinfeldt met with Adams early last week, they needed to be armed with a mountain of evidence that chronicled just what a detriment Young was to the Titans. They had to make an utterly compelling case, because it’s clear Adams’ first inclination was to stick with his quarterback.
Two days after that meeting, Adams released a statement that the franchise intended to cut ties with Young.
Things with Young had soured to the point that his presence was every bit as counterproductive as Pacman Jones’ was a few years earlier. Only in this case, the owner needed to have it spelled out for him in a way that cut through all his preconceived notions shaped by Young’s legendary high school career in Houston and even more celebrated college run at the largest university in this country’s second-largest state.
I’ve never forgotten the day back in the summer of 1998 when Adams, in a press conference at Tennessee State University, announced he intended to change the nickname and the colors of the franchise he founded nearly 40 years earlier in order to satisfy his new fan base, which existed roughly 1,000 miles from his home.
I asked him about the emotions he felt that day and was struck by his answer. He said any emotion was long gone, that once he separated emotion from the issue, the choice was clear, and that he ultimately resolved his feelings long before the day of the announcement.
I’m pretty certain that as he’s watched LP Field fill up Sunday after Sunday after Sunday for more than a decade, he never has regretted that decision.
Chances are, it will be the same with this one.