FanPost

April, the Month of Apologies...

Imus said it.  Mike Nifong kind of said it.  This has been the month of individuals making national appologies subsequent to being under scrutiny for their comments.  Well, this also happens to be the month in which the NFL Draft will be taking place, so let's look at one more person who may want to appologize.

It was one year ago at this time that Vince Young was being placed under a microscope and his draft status debated by the masses.  Columnist Jason Whitlock perhaps had the most to say in a rant published on ESPN.com's Page 2.  Whitlock has since been informed by ESPN that his services are no longer needed (though without the hubub Imus' departure received).  Looking back at the piece, perhaps it is time Whitlock said "I'm sorry."

Shortly after the column was written a year ago, I wrote ESPN with the following:

Has ESPN ever defined its goal regarding whether its priority is thoughtful journalism or simply entertainment?  The network obviously is a source for both at times, but with out the clear line having been drawn, some of the networks employees appear impeded by an inner need to try to be amusing while purporting to be a journalist.  I am writing to address ESPN.com in particular.  I understand the value and gravity readers should assign anything found on "Page 2."  This is where entertainment has been given the reigns, while the homepage is the public’s source for the professional product.

But when the home page has a large graphic up for multiple days that reads, "Shut up, Vince!"  I question the decision making by the editor who (a) decided the message was appropriate whatsoever and (b) believed there to be any correlation between the headline and the story it linked to.  This just appears to be sensationalism, pursuing shock value.  I understand Page 2 wants to draw traffic, but at what price?

When exactly was Vince talking?  Whitlock has highlighted some questionable choices/actions by Vince but rarely follows with a correct logical assessment.  It is as if Whitlock wanted to make certain conclusions, had some analogies that tickled him, and was ultimately determined to write his story and gather facts along the way.  Certainly, Whitlock will appreciate this next analogy.  All he has are square pegs, and he’s trying to shove them in to round holes.  Never once does he quote Vince or ellude to innapropriate comments, and yet Whitlock or an editor has decided to tell Vince to "Shut Up!"   I don’t mind reading something from which I differ in opinion.  But to make hateful comments and back them up with facts that do not correlate, just does not seem to add value to ESPN.

I have annotated the article throughout (in italics).

YOUNG NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

You have to wonder whether Vince Young knows what job he's applying for, or if he even realizes that he is "applying" for a job.

The NFL doesn't recruit starting quarterbacks. It's not the Marines out looking for a few good men. When it comes to picking its quarterbacks, The League is Halle Berry on Oscar night. She can pick any designer she pleases, and the world's most renowned designers are just grateful for the opportunity to be considered.

Vince Young doesn't get this. He thinks joining the NFL will be similar to joining the NCAA. He mistakenly believes he's holding all (or most of) the cards, and that come April's draft some lucky GM is going to feel like a lottery winner when Vince Young stands next to Paul Tagliabue and pulls on a Saints or Texans or Titans cap.

To be honest, Vince—like most top picks—does hold most of the cards.  There is a reason why these draftees command pay checks with almost as many zeroes as appear on the same player’s NFL career stat list up to that point.  In fact, the most recent player who came in and believed he had everything to prove and signed a performance-based contract was another Longhorn, Ricky Williams.  And yet, Williams was criticized for not pursuing the guaranteed payday.

Vince Young is clueless. And I'm not talking about his score on the Wonderlic test. I'm talking about his understanding of what it takes to make it in the NFL as a quarterback.

Where may I get a copy of the autobiography of Vince Young (ghost written by Jason Whitlock), where Vince has laid out his "understanding of what it takes to make it in the NFL as a quarterback?"

Humility is the No. 1 ingredient.

The most prestigious and most difficult job in all of sports -- NFL quarterback -- is played at a high level by the men willing to humble themselves and prepare like each Sunday is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This isn't the NBA, and Young isn't Shaquille O'Neal. You don't get the first half of the season to play your way into shape. It's not Major League Baseball, and Young isn't Roger Clemens. You don't get to stay at home with your family on certain road trips.

This is where most of Team Vince begins to realize little is going to be learned from this article.  Perhaps among the most discussed happenings, preceding Texas’ most recent road to Pasadena was the offseason workouts and drills, organized and carried through by #10, as he posted a note to the team that if they expected to win this year, he expected them to devote their summer to hard work and a renewed commitment to the team.  The Shaq and Clemens (another Longhorn) analogies are cute, but if you bubbled in either of those choices on the Wonderlic, let alone the SAT, you would be wrong.  It is a little premature to knock Vince for skipping mini-camp or summer camp when he is not even on a team yet, and his devotion to offseason honing of skills and general hard work would also happen to suggest to the contrary.   And when has Vince asked potential general managers if he could have road games or holidays off?  How are these critical comments relevantly tailored to Young as opposed to Bush, Leinart, or anybody breathing whom Whitlock wishes to tear down?

This isn't the University of Texas, and Young is no longer able to rely on his superior athleticism and instincts to outduel his competitors.

No.  But those attributes are what will set him appart from the rest.

Young's success in the NFL will hinge almost exclusively on his willingness to prepare. And that's exactly what Young's Wonderlic score and other curious decisions call into question -- his will to prepare and his level of humility.

Actually, no.  The Wonderlic calls in to question Vince’s "book smarts," and I’m not here to defend his education over the past four years.  There is a reason why the players drafted in April are putting their health on the line as opposed to sitting in a cushy chair as a CEO making similar money, if not more.  Willingness to prepare for a standardized test and willingness to prepare through repetitions on a gridiron and evenings in a film room are two different things.  Vince has proven his willingness (and self-motivation) in doing the latter.

The fact that Young had to take the Wonderlic twice in order to score a 16 is an indication to me that Young did not prepare for the test, particularly the first time. That speaks to Young's arrogance. So does his choice in representation and his decision to visit the president and the White House sans sports coat and tie.
Are you following me?

When you have a chance at being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, securing a $25 million signing bonus and landing one of the 32 most important jobs in professional sports, you don't pick a family friend and local criminal defense attorney (Major Adams) to head up your campaign.
That's not keeping it real. It's foolish and arrogant. It raises questions about your decision-making and maturity.

You can question maturity and decision making, with Vince’s expressed disapointment at the Heisman ceremony, but again Whitlock goes in a different direction.  Hiring a family friend may logically indicate something, but that something is not arrogance.  Vince knows he will get paid and went with the antithesis to Drew Rosenhaus.  He may have overlooked the other benefits a seasoned agent can provide a rookie with pre-draft advice, but again it’s Vince’s heart getting in the way, not arrognce.

Now, had Young wanted to give Major Adams a break, Young could've easily stipulated to any experienced potential agent that Adams work as co-counsel. A deal such as this would've provided Adams with a tremendous learning experience and protected Young's interest.
It would've given Team Vince, the loosely formed management posse representing Young, some much-needed professionalism. A seasoned agent might be able to explain to Young the difference between being an NFL quarterback and an NBA small forward.

Now Vince goes to being compared to an NBA small forward.  What happened to his being the the NBA post player who wanted to rely on natural talent instead of hard work?

Small forwards travel with posses decked out in white T's, bling bling and agents in sweat suits. NFL quarterbacks don't.

"Posse," "keeping it real," and now "bling bling."  Are we criticizing Vince for being too "black" now?  Because that is one point that Whitlock has not explicitly made as an African-American himself.

When Young hit radio row at Super Bowl XL with posse and Major Adams in tow, that was the first time I sensed that Young might not grasp that the rules are different for QBs and DBs. When I learned that the leader of Young's posse (and the man calling the real shots for Team Vince) is a longtime friend and Houston nightclub owner who goes by the nickname "Black," that's when I told a friend to keep an eye on Young's draft stock.

Nevermind.  There’s the black reference.

"It's gonna dip."

A starting NFL quarterback is the face of a billion-dollar corporation. He is one of the three or four highest-profile individuals in his city and perhaps in his state. His every move is cussed, discussed and analyzed by millions of people who don't have a clue about playing the position.

I thought Vince was the one who didn’t have a clue about playing the position.

It's impossible to exaggerate just how much more important the NFL is than every other sport in this country. Vince Young foolishly thinks that the Texas Longhorns and Mack Brown are more important than the Houston Texans and Gary Kubiak. Young thinks playing USC for the national championship was real pressure.

If Vince thought "that the Texas Longhorns and Mack Brown are more important than the Houston Texans and Gary Kubiak" then why did he pass up the chance to play in Austin one more year?  I could have sworn Vince has made it clear to Houston that he wants to be a part of the Texans.  Oh, and...NOTE TO NAÏVE SPORTS FANS: playing USC for the national championship was not "real" pressure.  For an example of "real" pressure, observe a Page 2 writer facing a deadline and needing to tear down a 22-year-old to help pitch a book on sale.

Playing quarterback in the NFL is the equivalent of getting in the sack with Jenna Jameson. Oh, everybody wants to do it, but it can be an incredibly humbling and "short" experience.

This analogy single handedly sums up the standards and "maturity" Whitlock holds himself to as a journalist.

Just ask Ryan Leaf or countless other can't-miss prospects. Michael Vick is in the process of getting humbled. He was supposed to reinvent the position. I don't believe the position will ever be reinvented. The guys who have consistent success will always be the guys who prepare the hardest.

Michael Vick is not supposed to reinvent the position.  That is the job of the Atlanta offensive coordinator.  Vick still has the talent he has always had.  He is not being humbled, his strengths are not being taken advantage of.  And, yes, Vince faces the same possible mismanagement of his skills.  A team who values him as a top pick are over-valuing him unless they actually plan on using the skills that they are "drooling" over.

Before any NFL owner gives Young a bunch of guaranteed dollars, the general manager better make sure Young is going to hit the film room and practice field just as hard as Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Tom Brady. The GM also should make sure that the head coach and offensive coordinator -- not some let's-hit-the-strip-clubs posse member -- have the ear of the quarterback.

I believe I have addressed the film room and practice field earlier, but do these statements not equally apply to Leinart and Cutler?  Nice to know the latter two white quarterbacks don’t have a some "let's-hit-the-strip-clubs posse member" in their ears.

Playing QB in The League is a different animal.

It's an honor. So far, Vince Young isn't treating it like an honor. He's treating it like it's his right, granted to him by an MVP performance in the Rose Bowl. You can be a fool and argue that Young proved all he needed to prove in Texas' upset of USC. Hmm. Didn't Redskins running back Tim Smith and Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown have big games on football's biggest stage and later prove to be frauds? And what don't people understand about the concept that NFL quarterbacks have to prove themselves week to week?

Tim Smith and Larry Brown weren’t national championship game MVPs were they?  That would be incredible that they also went on to be NFL Super Bowl MVPs as well.  But I believe that is what Whitlock was actually alluding to, with another disjointed analogy.  Now he asserts that the NFL Super Bowl is not "real" pressure.  What exactly is the next level after that?  Note to Vince:  Just because you are successful at the college level does not mean you will be successful as an NFL quarterback.  And just because you are successful as an NFL quarterback and win the Super Bowl for whichever struggling franchise drafts you, and garner MVP honors, does not mean you will be a successful NFL quarterback.  "Are you following me?"   Finally, what does this statement allude to:  "And what don't people understand about the concept that NFL quarterbacks have to prove themselves week to week?"  Where was this discussed and concluded to the contrary by public (or Vince’s) opinion?

Right now Young is proving that he doesn't have the necessary intangibles to thrive as a starting QB. He carries himself like a wide receiver.

Vince has proved that, to the same extent Whitlock has proven his point.  Before you tell us that no Hall of Fame quarterback listened to rap music, be quiet, Jason.

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