We, as sports fans, are often guilty of shameless idolatry when it comes to those that play the games that we love so very much. We look at them, not as people, but as either some fantastical entity that can do no wrong, or as mindless robots whose sole existence is to play the game that they are paid so much to. We often forget that they are human beings and possess a life outside of sports. We also often forget that they, as human beings and not robots, suffer from a lot of the same day-to-day issues that most of us suffer from as well. Then there are cases that make us step back and remember "wow, they have problems just like the rest of us". Today, that case is the former Detroit Lions wide receiver Titus Young.
Titus Young was a very talented wide receiver coming out of Boise State University. Not a lot of people were paying attention to Boise State when Young got there in 2008, but by the time he left Boise, they had become a relative powerhouse in college football and are a key factor, I believe, in the NCAA committee's decision to finally give the fans what they've been clamoring about for years, a playoff. Even during those early years at Boise though, it was evident that Young had some behavioral issues and might need someone to step in and seek counsel for him. He was suspended for most of his sophomore season after fighting with a teammate, but he was supremely talented at this game that we all love so much, so his issues were overlooked and probably attributed to "boys being boys" or something equally ridiculous.
Fast forward to 2011, when Young is drafted in the second round (despite having first round talent, he slipped in the draft due to the off-field issues) by the Detroit Lions. Of all the places for a troubled youth to end up, Detroit (both the city and the organization itself) is probably the worst place in all of the NFL. Detroit seems to be a haven, and not in the benevolent sense either, for behaviorally-suspect players. You need not look any further than the on-field antics of Ndamukong Suh to illustrate that point (though to be fair to Suh, he has never had any issues off the field). Young had no problems his rookie year of 2011, being used primarily as the teams number two wide receiver and having some pretty respectable contributions for a rookie, including a two-touchdown game against division rivals Green Bay.
Then the troubles started again for Young. During practices in May, the troubled wide receiver was sent home after sucker-punching a teammate. Fights happen all the time in practice, so I'm sure that not much was made of it, but given his prior history, this should have been a red-flag to the organization that maybe this kid has some issues with anger and should be prompted to seek counselling. Later on that season, he was sent home yet again, this time for the ever-ambiguous "conduct detrimental to the team". It was later reported that this "conduct" was him intentionally lining up in the wrong position multiple times after a verbal spat with his position coach over the teams usage of Young. As of right now, that would be the last time that Young plays in the NFL. In the weeks following the incident Young was declared inactive for a game, told to stay away from the team's practice facilities, put on injured reserve despite not being injured (a move that would end his season, and career in Detroit), and ultimately released following several tweets by Young expressing his desire to leave the team if he wasn't going to get playing time and production.
Now, it's easy to look at all of this and see a man who is a stuck up, snot nosed kid who just needs to grow up and handle the responsibilities that have been placed upon him. When I look at it though, I see a man who is desperately in need of someone to step in and say "You may not want this, but it's time that you got help for whatever issues are plaguing you. You don't have a choice, this is an intervention, you're getting the help". The need for this help became even more evident in the past month where, after being picked up on waivers by the St. Louis Rams (the only team to put in a claim on him), Young was arrested not once, not twice, but three times in the span of five days, two of which were on the same day. On May 5th, Young was arrested on suspicion of DUI. He was given a ticket, his car was impounded and he was free on bail. Approximately 14 hours later, Young was arrested again, this time for attempting to steal his car out of the impound lot. On May 10th, Young was arrested yet again this time for suspicion of burglary (again), resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer.
At what point does someone need to step in and tell this man that enough is enough? When will someone save him from himself? For the sake of Young, I hope it's sooner rather than later.
Welcome! My name is Chris Spooner. I am an overly-passionate Dolphins fan who has many opinions about his team, and the sports landscape as a whole. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy voicing them.