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Many described Young’s performance—200 yards rushing, 267 passing and three TDs, including the walk-off TD in a 41–38 national title win—as the single greatest in the history of the sport. She worried about the celebrity tsunami, her son’s new friends, the relatives—more like “relatives”—circling with their hands out. “I figured he’d play 13 or 14 NFL seasons,” says Greg Davis, his college coordinator.
In the immediate aftermath Felicia couldn’t get near her son. “No one was more surprised than me how that all worked out.” Young’s squandered-potential story contains many familiar missteps, but so much of what hindered him was also beyond his control, starting with the 2006 draft. pampered, coddled, whatever word you want to use.” Young went 8–5 as a rookie starter and galloped 39 yards into the end zone in Houston, sticking it to the Texans in overtime that December.
And that comeback starts in the Canadian Football League, where he’s a backup quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I flew north to meet with Young after speaking to two dozen of his closest friends and family members this spring. He’s here, on Memorial Day, when he could be back home, barbecuing with the millionaire UT boosters he counts as mentors, hanging out with his wife, Candice, and their six-year-old son, Jordan.
They’d offered varied theories about why he’d returned to football after a three-year absence, motives that ranged from simplistic (he hated how his career had ended, released by ) to optimistic (he dreamed of an NFL return) to skeptical (he’d recently partnered in three businesses; each would benefit from the publicity). Now, I can’t blame anyone but me.” For his last birthday, in May, Young chose a low-key celebration in Austin, watching the NBA playoffs with friends. In Austin, Young is still the celebrity deemed by his Longhorns coach, Mack Brown, “obviously one of the best to ever play college football.” He’s still the guy the Titans plucked with the No. He’s here, he says, to rewrite the ending, to close the disconnect between celebrity and ignominy, between rich and broke, scorned and reborn, to lift The more Young talks, though, the less clear it is how far along he is in this transformation.
(Further setting the stage: A month earlier Young had lost to USC’s Reggie Bush in the Heisman race, after which Young retreated to his hotel room and refused to come out.) In Pasadena, Mc Nair borrowed a cowboy hat for good luck from the child sitting in front of him, and with the game almost over he turned to a close friend and predicted, “This story has been written, and it’s not going to end any other way.” • Read the best of Sports Illustrated’s Where Are They Now? He ran in one score with left, then steered the Longhorns down the field in the final two minutes.
On fourth-and-five, with 26 seconds remaining, he bounded into the end zone to secure a permanent spot in college football lore. He couldn’t go to the restroom without being bombarded.” A week later Vince declared for the NFL draft, having racked up 30 victories in 32 starts, a .938 winning percentage that ranked sixth in D-I history.
At 6' 5" and 230 pounds, he displayed athleticism that defied physics—but so did his throwing motion, that awkward hitch leading to near-sidearm throws.
As Young’s celebrity skyrocketed, he found a mentor in Steve Mc Nair, an NFL star with a sterling reputation.
He’s attempting to return to the sport that once defined him, that made him rich, that opened him up to ridicule and that ultimately crushed him.Whereas Brown had been the father figure Young always wanted, Fisher, he says, acted like someone saddled with an unwanted stepson. And I’m looking at Fisher like, You can stop all this, all the talk. And now I gotta walk through the airport as the Suicidal Guy for the rest of my life.” With Young shelved at first by his knee injury, Collins and the Titans went 13–3 that season.Family members, close friends, even Young’s pastor describe Fisher as “jealous” and “envious” of the QB. Young attempted a mere 36 passes in three games and took off for Cancún soon after the season ended, eager to forget 2008 forever. “Pop’s gone,” the friend said, referencing Mc Nair by his nickname.Texas and USC, both undefeated, met in the Rose Bowl for the national title on Jan.4, 2006, and Mc Nair sat in the stands with the Longhorns fans, watching as the Trojans took a 38–26 lead with remaining.