Vince Young is starting over.
This the new Vince, free of entourages, wild spending and the burdens of being a franchise quarterback. This is family man Vince, the doting dad who’s looking for one last shot to put food on the table with NFL paychecks.
It’s also desperate Vince, a 30-year-old man with bills to pay and a family to support.
Right now the title is: Vince Young, Unemployed NFL Quarterback.
His goal is to get back being VY, the game changer, the quarterback who owns a 61-21 record in his 82 career college and pro starts.
The odds are not in his favor. Nothing says you’re finished more than being locked in a training camp battle in Buffalo with a guy named Tyler Thigpen, only to find out they’re releasing you to make room for Tarvaris Jackson.
So there he stood at Tuesday’s Texas Pro Timing Day, working with a bunch of kids who were in high school when he so famously ran into the right corner of the end zone in Pasadena seven years ago, delivering Texas the national championship. Young was the most noticeable party crasher in Timing Day history, much bigger than guys like John Chiles and DeSean Hales, who are still chasing their NFL dream despite college careers that didn’t live up to expectations.
While Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor worked out for teams who were considering making one of them first-round draft picks, Young became — by my count — the first Pro Bowler/offensive rookie of the year in NFL history to re-audition for league personnel.
The audition wasn’t bad.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and a couple of dozen other representatives from the league looked on as Young showed good arm strength and nice accuracy on deep balls and out routes. He threw mostly to D.J. Monroe, Marquise Goodwin and Chiles, which was a mild surprise. Where were the NFL receivers? Surely he could have gotten a Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby or David Thomas to hook him up for one afternoon.
Besides that, Young scored nice marks in his return, not because he can throw a football but because he showed up in what looked to be remarkable shape. He was listed at 233 pounds during his college days, but appeared closer to 225 on Tuesday.
While Young threw nice catch-able passes to receivers, he did drop the ball when he declined to meet with reporters after his workouts, saying he would speak next week. That’s where he still has some growing up to do. There is no next week at this point of his career. There are only todays.
Mack Brown insists Young has grown up and deserves another chance. He encouraged Young to throw to receivers at UT practice earlier this spring, and from that came Young’s decision to turn back the clock and work out for scouts Tuesday. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him get at least get a camp invite with perpetrators like Brock Osweiler, Derek Anderson and Dan Orlovsky cashing NFL checks.
“He’s better than a whole lot of people that are playing out there,” Brown said. “With mobile quarterbacks and what they’re doing in the NFL, running some option and zone read … Someone will get lucky. Someone will win the lottery with this workout.”
You can best believe that Young would happily settle for the veteran minimum of $840,000 for his experience level, with the possibility of more if he makes a team this fall. It isn’t the $26 million guaranteed that he pocketed on his first deal with Tennessee — money that has slipped through his fingers, in one way or another — but it would be much better than spending another season wondering why your phone didn’t ring for 17 straight weeks.
Former Cowboys player personnel director Gil Brandt was impressed enough to say that Young put on a show in his 15 minutes of throwing, and even went as far as to add that Young threw it better than he ever has. Brandt believes Young has improved in some areas, especially his footwork, but that he must conquer the mental side of the game to regain his foothold as an NFL player.
“His biggest challenge is not today,” Brandt said. “His biggest challenge is a week from now, or a month from now. He physically can do it. But is he going to have stick–to-it-iveness to do it once he gets into camp and has to sit down and study a playbook and know what it is.”
Young’s physical gifts are still there, and he has put in some work. That much is certain.
That doesn’t guarantee that a team will take a chance on him this fall.