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NFL: Titus Young declined our help

Nearly 18 months before Titus Young was arrested three times in one week, the NFL reached out to the then-Detroit Lions wide receiver who, according to the league's director of player engagement Troy Vincent, declined the league's help.

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Titus Young was arrested three times in one week in early May. (AP)

Vincent said a member of Young's inner circle phoned the NFL last year expressing concern about the troubled wide receiver.

"It was someone very, very close to him who was just concerned – really concerned," Vincent told Yahoo! Sports by phone on Tuesday. "Once we got the call, we sent someone out to meet with him."

Vincent said his department "tried multiple times" to work with Young to no avail.

"We were told he was not interested in support," Vincent said. "We went to people very close to his center of influence, to reach out to see how we can support him. The response was of someone who is not open arms to being supported."

Young's agent, Kevin Poston, declined comment.

In February, the Lions released the former Boise State star after an offseason fight with Louis Delmas. That came in the wake of several difficulties with members of the Detroit coaching staff during the 2012 season.

In just the last month, Young has been arrested three times in California, including twice in one day. He is now in jail in Orange County, facing up to 10 years in prison on 11 counts of burglary, attempted burglary and assaulting officers. He may also be prosecuted for a DUI charge.

Several former teammates have expressed worry on Twitter, and Young's father told both Detroit newspapers "his mind is not capable enough to go out and deal with society."

Vincent's department is expressly geared toward helping players with off-field issues. There is a hotline for players and their families to call for support at any time, even if they are no longer with a team.

"We can reach out, which we have done," Vincent says. "We look to assist and support – to get him on track. We've reached out. We have been reaching out prior to his last incident. We've been working hard for quite some time in this situation. Everything is available to him."

Vincent said he remains eager to help Young, at no cost, but he can't force any player to respond.

"We will be on call to support. That's all we can do," he said. "We are here. We are on call. Our support team is here for you. Unless he engages back, all we can do is sit and be on call. "

Vincent called situations like this "our greatest challenge," because a player often doesn't believe he needs help until (or even well after) it's too late. He said he was deeply disappointed when he got news of Young's legal troubles earlier this month.

"You're not surprised when you get the call and it's in reference to him," Vincent said. "You just say this could possibly have been prevented."

But how? That's the question facing Vincent, whose job is to try to help players avoid trouble. Part of the problem is a lack of awareness among players about Vincent's department and the hotline, and part of the problem is a player's belief that help isn't needed – especially from the league which employs him.

"We can't stop and we won't stop," Vincent says, "but how do we engage with this mindset? What can we do? How do we engage sooner?"

 

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