Another NFL week, another black player in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
On Sunday, Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young injured the thumb on his throwing hand in a 19-16 overtime loss to the Washington Redskins. He was pulled from the game. After the game it was reported that Young got into an argument with Titans’ head coach Jeff Fisher, and stormed out of the locker room during the post-game speech.
These types of arguments are becoming all too common this year with black NFL players. Randy Moss’s post-game speech and subsequent cutting from the Minnesota Vikings has been well documented. Moss, now a teammate of Young’s, hasn’t been a distraction since his arrival with the Titans, but he also hasn’t been much of a factor, catching just one ball in two games.
A few weeks ago the major headline was Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan benching Donovan McNabb during the final two minutes of a winnable game against the Detroit Lions, claiming he was worried about McNabb’s cardiovascular endurance. McNabb mostly took the high road, but did call the notion that he was out of shape “hilarious.”
WATCH NBC SPORTS COVERAGE OF VINCE YOUNG:
Two weeks ago, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco voiced frustration with not getting enough looks, when he caught just one pass against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. His actions led to coach Marvin Lewis briefly yanking him from the game, and he was shown on camera arguing with quarterback Carson Palmer.
It’s unfortunate that these situations keep arising. There’s plenty of good stories about black players that should be the focus, like “Michael Vick’s historic comeback”:http://www.thegrio.com/sports/vicks-victorious-comeback-is-the-stuff-of-legend.php; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard having a bounce-back year; former troubled wide receivers like Santonio Holmes and Dez Bryant making major impacts on their teams; the combination of quarterback Josh Freeman and head coach Raheem Morris leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to respectability; and more. Unfortunately high-profile players seem to continue to be disgruntled with their situations, and these dust-ups always seem to make the front pages.
With Young, we’re at the point where we’re getting different explanations from everyone as to exactly what happened. It’s been reported that Young threw his jersey and shoulder pads in the stands. Young says he simply gave his jersey to the daughter of a Titans’ executive.
Young said he asked to go back in the game. Fisher says he never got that request.
It’s being reported that Young stormed out and teammate Michael Griffin had to run after him and confronted him when he reached the parking lot. Both Young and Griffin deny this went on.
And on top of all of this, Young’s season is over, as his thumb injury will require season-ending surgery.
What makes these situations worse is that each of these players has been the focal point of negative news before. Moss has consistently been in the news his entire career, and is often labeled as a troublemaker. When discussing Ochocinco, words like “diva” and “prima Donna” usually get brought up too.
McNabb seems to be in the center of some controversy every year (and unfairly most of the time). And Young has had his fair share of documented problems before this incident as well.
These arguments take away from how the players perform on the field. The more these types of incidents arise, the less we’re talking about how McNabb led the Eagles to the Super Bowl, or how Randy Moss is one of the best wide receivers to ever catch a football. These incidents could tarnish these players’ great careers to the point where we are focusing more on what they say, than how they play.
Young at one time looked to be well on his way to a promising NFL career, and the next great black quarterback. But this latest incident is making some commentators wonder whether this is the last straw for either Young or Fisher. It’s clear the two of them have their differences, and it may be time for one of them to leave Tennessee for good. There’s no guarantee that Young won’t be the one sent packing.
There are plenty of positive black football player stories happening each week. Unfortunately, when we look back at this year, we may be talking more about black football players’ petulance than their performance.