The Tennessee Titans lost to the Washington Redskins 19-16 in OT on Sunday. During the game, Titans quarterback Vince Young tore a tendon on his thumb and, although he was seen warming up on the sideline afterward, rookie Rusty Smith took over for the Titans in the eventual loss.
Following the game, Young reportedly threw his pads into the stands while heading to the locker room. Shortly thereafter, Young stormed out of the locker room in street clothes. Shortly after that, Titans coach Jeff Fisher indicated that Young would not be the starter, injury or no.
Young, whose thumb injury will require season-ending surgery, had a meltdown that will be talked about for quite some time. It’s comparable to other end-of-game meltdowns featuring high-profile athletes. Can one predict how Young’s future will pan out based on these other instances?
One such instance involves LeBron James. In the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, after just being eliminated by the Orlando Magic, much controversy was made over James not shaking hands with Magic players following the defeat. The act of shaking hands post-game has its differing opinions. Some believe it’s a worthless tradition, and LeBron did no wrong by letting the Magic rightfully celebrate their victory. On the other hand, one of hockey’s great traditions is the post-series handshake between every player and coach, and if hockey can make it a well respected tradition, then what’s so hard about James doing the same?
It was perhaps the first sign that James was not the lovable player he made himself out to be, which was blown out in huge proportions this past summer with the infamous “Decision.”
In the 2009 US Open, Serena Williams went off on a line judge near the end of her semifinal match against Kim Clijsters. Williams, who was two points away from losing the match, was already frustrated and, after being called for a borderline foot fault call by the linesman, Williams went off on the linesman. The tirade eventually convinced the linesman to penalize Williams, who was warned earlier after breaking a tennis racket, and as a result Clijsters was given match point. Williams was still heated over the entire incident for an entire day or so until finally giving what seemed to be a reluctant apology. While Williams was also fined for the incident, it didn’t seem to slow her down, however, as Williams continued to play well and incident-free until a foot injury in July caused her to miss the rest of this year.
Randy Moss, a man known for his controversies, left the football field early in a 2004 Week 17 game. As his Minnesota Vikings were losing by three at Washington, at the end of the game, Moss did not believe his team would recover the onside kick and took an early leave. They didn’t, and that would be the last regular season game Moss would play in a Vikings uniform until 2010.
Moss, who has been often criticized for a lack of effort, showed as much in that game, and this perception did not change once he was traded to Oakland that following postseason. While he was mostly fine in his stay in New England, Moss started back up again in 2010 with a series of odd press conferences which have now led him, ironically, to these same Tennessee Titans.
Young, unlike these three, has not established himself as an elite player, and as a result this meltdown will add to his already shaky reputation; it will hamper his chances to start for the Titans or any team in the NFL again.
Pro Football Talk, Vince Young is No Longer the Titans Starting Quarterback, profootballtalk.com
NBC Sports, Vince Young to go on Injured Reserve, nbcsports.com
New York Times, A Handshake Is Not Too Much to Ask, Even From a King, nytimes.com
Guardian, Serena Williams is Fined $10,500 for US Open Line Judge Tirade, guardian.co.uk
New York Times, This Season, Moss is in the Mood to Play, nytimes.com