Chronicling Titus Young's Descent Into The NFL's Blacklist
By Allen Kim
If there was ever a guide on how to get blacklisted by the NFL, it would highlight all of the boneheaded things former Detroit Lions WR Titus Young has done over the past year. Young has certainly raised the bar (or would it be lowered in this case?) in terms of making terrible life decisions, and everyone should take heed of his transgressions.
The latest addition to Young’s laundry list of offenses happened last Sunday in southern California when he was arrested twice in the span of 15 hours by the Moreno Valley Police Department. It appears that Young took the term two-a-days a bit too far for once in his life.
Young was first booked at the Robert Presley Detention Center for suspicion of driving under the influence after being pulled over for making an illegal left turn in front of a patrol car. After being released from custody with a citation, Young apparently decided that he wanted to get reacquainted with the back of a squad car again. Instead of trying to pay the fee to get his car out of the impound lot, he opted to jump the fence of the tow company’s yard to get it back. The police arrested him for burglary, and he ended up back in the same detention center he found himself in 15 hours earlier.
These incidents should come as no surprise to Lions fans and many around the league. Young was red-flagged for character issues in the lead up to the 2011 NFL Draft, but the Lions opted to gamble on him in the second round anyway. After a promising rookie season, there were high hopes for his future opposite Calvin Johnson. He was all the buzz in fantasy football circles as a sleeper candidate for a breakout season during his sophomore campaign, but things started to spiral out of control before the Lions even played their first game.
It all began when Young sucker-punched teammate Louis Delmas during an offseason workout, and it culminated when he was essentially banished from the team after sabotaging the Lions’ Week 11 matchup against the division-rival Green Bay Packers by purposefully lining up in the wrong spots. To compound things for Young’s already bleak future in Detroit, he went on a series of rants on Twitter that put his immaturity and poor attitude on full display for the world to see.
Lions GM Martin Mayhew didn’t even bother to try and trade the mercurial wide receiver because he believed that Young had “no trade value,” and the wideout was eventually waived. The St. Louis Rams were the only team to put in a waiver claim on Young, but he only lasted nine days with the team before they cut him loose. Jeff Fisher has taken on quite a few troublemakers during his lengthy career, and if he won’t even work with Young, then it doesn’t bode well for his chances of landing elsewhere.
Young may have already played his last snap in the NFL. He’s talented enough that some needy team could potentially gamble and take a risk on him, but it’s tough to see some team signing him at this stage of his career when he displays the mental fortitude of a 12-year-old.
The wide receiver position is notorious for having the biggest divas in the sport, but that’s no excuse to follow in the footsteps of someone such as Terrell Owens. Players like Young need to check their attitude and ego (he can't seriously think that he's better than Megatron, can he?) at the door. Football is a team sport, and when a player only starts to think of how he can “get his," then that’s when he’ll find himself one step closer to the unemployment line. No player is bigger than the team, and each player must be aware that they will be heavily scrutinized and held responsible for their actions.
Commissioner Goodell has made it loud and clear that he will not tolerate any violations of the NFL’s stringent personal conduct policy. The NFL’s image has been tainted over the last couple of seasons over stories such as Michael Vick’s involvement in a dog fighting ring, Adam “Pacman” Jones’ continuous run-ins with the law, and Ben Roethlisberger being accused of rape. Whether or not you agree with Goodell’s strong-arm tactics over personal conduct, it’s tough to argue against player’s cleaning up their act on and off the field. These players are in the public spotlight, and many of them — whether they care to or not — serve as role models for young kids that look up to them.
Just making it into the NFL is a huge accomplishment, but the real challenge comes in making a career out of it. No matter how physically gifted a player may be, it will only take them so far. Football is a brutal sport, and careers are cut short on a regular basis. It’s a harsh reality to face, but every player has to make the most out of their time in the league because they never know how long it will last.
Young is not the first to potentially flush his career and millions of dollars down the drain, and he certainly won’t be the last. So for all the rookies and aspiring NFL players out there, let Young’s story serve as a cautionary tale. It’s a privilege to play in the NFL, and your antics will only be tolerated for so long.