Since he graduated from Texas national champion to NFL starting quarterback, I’ve been a Vince Young nay-sayer, claiming more than once that the national sports media gave him more credit than he deserved. While I’d agree that stats aren’t everything, I simply didn’t get how a guy with such terrible stats could be praised so much by the media and at the end of a mediocre rookie season be given offensive MVP of the year honors.
My Vince Young hate even led me to fire a frosty e-mail to my favorite sports columnist (Salon.com’s King Kaufman) when he said Young was better as a rookie than Michael Vick (he sharply disagreed in a prompt, stat-driven reply). Last year, I read with glee Young’s box score stat lines and continued to spout off every chance I had about anyone in the media calling him a superstar and a leader when he had similar stats to the oft-ridiculed former quarterback Trent Dilfer.
I must confess, in my petty hatred of Vince Young, I never really considered that he could be struggling with his repeatedly failing to live up to the expectation and hype brought by winning a national championship and leading a NFL team to a handful of exciting comebacks as a rookie. I wanted him to fail because he was in my mind overrated and undeserving of so much praise.
Reading this article has me rethinking my soapbox a little.
His mom says he’s hurting inside and out and considering quitting football. I say that’s too bad. Sure, I wanted him to be humbled and prove King Kaufman and company wrong. But I can’t help but feel some sympathy for the situation he’s found himself in. He is, after all, in many ways a product of the hype machine that placed such lofty expectations on him from day one. Unlike so many rookies before him who were given time to season and learn the game before stepping into the limelight, he was rushed to the huddle and lifted up probably before he had really done anything worthy of top-of-the-fold ink.
Now, because I love an underdog, I kind of want him to come back and put it to all of those Tennessee fans hating on him. Besides, I’ll have plenty of hating to do when basketball season rolls around and Greg Oden begins his official post-Ohio State reign as the NBA’s most overrated and overhyped coat hanger.