Vince Young is one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, but he was never able to replicate that success in the NFL – and he believes Jeff Fisher is a big reason why.
Young has recently taken shots at his former Tennessee coach, saying that Fisher never developed him as a quarterback and leaked private conversations between the two of them to the media, among other transgressions.
“I don’t think that’s accurate,” Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I don’t really like that YY said that.”
Simms was Young’s teammate at Texas and his teammate, for one season, in Tennessee, so he knows the guy fairly well.
“I’ll say this,” Simms said. “Vince is a great heart. He’s a great dude. He means well. Has he had the greatest upbringing? No. He came from very hard circumstances. Has he done some dumb things? Has he had a lot of hanger-on-ers on him and people directing him down the wrong tunnel a lot of times through his career? Definitely. I was there to experience it in Tennessee, and even a little bit at Texas I saw it there. But I think that what bothered me more than anything is Vince has to take accountability for his actions.”
Young didn’t do that. He said, for example, that Fisher had the Titans team plane take off without him during his rookie season – despite the fact, Young claims, that he told Fisher he would be late and that the plane had been held for other players in the past.
“He’s really going to get mad that the plane left him as the starting quarterback?” Simms asked. “What do you think Bill Belichick would do if Tom Brady was late for the plane? He would have been out of the door. He probably wouldn’t have let Tom play the next day, either. It would never happen. That would never happen.”
Simms acknowledged that star players receive preferential treatment “without a doubt,” but more is expected from quarterbacks.
“The quarterback is supposed to be your Type-A personality in the locker room who’s always 10 minutes early (and ready to go),” Simms said. “(Young has) got to take some accountability for his actions. . . . Vince just wasn’t always a top-tier professional from that manner, whether it was being on time for meetings or just doing the little things behind the scenes that quarterbacks do. So I was not pleased with his comments because I really like Jeff Fisher. He’s a guy that I will always stick up for. He kind of gave me an extra year in the NFL because I was hurt after my injury. I know what he’s all about, and he’s one of the better guys in all of football. He certainly tried to help Vince out with the whole issue of the suicidal thing.”
Only Young claims that Fisher falsely told people that he was suicidal.
“I don’t know the complete story,” Simms said. “That’s only for Jeff Fisher and Vince to know. But I do know – and I had a lot of other Texas teammates on that team in Tennessee – that there was people concerned about Vince at that time. So I don’t think it’s far-fetched from where Jeff Fisher’s story kind of came from.”
Simms added that Fisher was as player-friendly as it gets.
“Jeff Fisher was the most fun coach I was ever around. Period,” Simms said. “Jeff Fisher is a great guy – in fact, to the point where we had too much fun. I think they had too much fun in L.A. That’s why maybe things weren’t always as buttoned up as they might be. So I don’t buy that, either.”
Fisher, though, apparently didn’t want to draft Young with the third overall pick in 2006. Once the Titans did, though, Fisher was excited about what the dual-threat quarterback could bring to the table.
But then the problems began.
“I think it went askew more once Vince maybe had some of the off-the-field issues,” Simms said. “That’s when it became, ‘Listen, this wasn’t my guy.’ Jeff is an ex-player. He gets it. I think he was excited about what vince could bring to the table, all those things. But I think as Vince became less and less accountable, then they don’t start to win games – then you show up your coach and walk off the field? Come on. That’s unheard-of stuff. . . . He’s got some great leadership qualities. He really does. As far as rallying the guys around him, Vince Young is as good as they get. There’s a lot of qualities to really respect about him.
“But even at Texas, I never thought he was going to be a first-round quarterback,” Simms continued. “When I left (in 2003), I was like, ‘Vince Young is gong to be a top-ten pick as a wide receiver in the NFL.’ I didn’t think at that point he was a good enough thrower. I didn’t know if he was going to be into the finer details of the position.”
At that point, Simms felt that Young was an “exact carbon copy of Roy Williams,” who led the NFC in receiving yards in 2006.
“I just thought, ‘This is what Vince is going to end up doing,’” Simms said. “’They’re going to end up throwing him slant routes and he’s going to run 70 yards for a touchdown.”
Young’s 2005 season, however, changed Simms’ mind. In fact, Simms called Young’s 2006 Rose Bowl – a 467-yard, three-touchdown effort – “the most amazing performance ever.”
“I thought, ‘Oh wow, we’re about to see Michael Vick,’” Simms recalled, “‘except this guy’s bigger and stronger an this might be something we’ve never seen in the NFL before.’”