November 21, 2010
It wasn't bad enough for the Tennessee Titans that they lost, 19-16, to the Washington Redskins, in an overtime heartbreaker. After the game, tensions between head coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young(notes) boiled over, leading to a situation in which Young lost his starting job (at the very least) and may never play for Fisher again (in a worst-case scenario).
First, the background. In the game, Young completed 12 of 16 passes for 165 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. He left in the second half with what is being reported as a thumb injury which may require surgery, though Steve Wyche of the NFL Network reported that Young took snaps on the sideline through the second half and acted as if he wanted to come back into the game.
It's possible that Young's bad feelings about the whole day were exacerbated by a home crowd that was booing him with every incompletion. With Kerry Collins(notes) already injured, Fisher was left with third-stringer Rusty Smith(notes), a sixth-round rookie from Florida Atlantic who hadn't played a single regular-season snap. Smith went 3-of-9 for 62 yards and a pick.
After the game was over, Young walked off the field, throwing his jersey and shoulder pads to the crowd as he headed for the tunnel. And that's where things got really interesting.
According to Jim Wyatt of the Nashville Tennessean, who has been on this story all day, things really veered out of hand when Fisher was gathering the team after the game. Young was muttering expletives under his breath, and Fisher told Young to be quiet. At that point, Young bolted for the door. Fisher told Young not to run out on his teammates, and Young said (per Wyatt, who was quoting from a source), "I'm not running out on my teammates, I'm running out on you." Young then left the locker room as more words were exchanged with Fisher.
Fisher laid it all out at his postgame press conference.
"As far as the quarterback situation is concerned, Vince tore a flexor tendon in his thumb, and I was not satisfied with his ability to control the ball," the coach said. "He never came to me and said that he was OK and wanted to go back in, and I was told that he was obviously a little upset after [the game]. I was also told that he threw half his uniform in the stands. Clearly, that's no way to respond, so we have some things we need to sort out with him. He may need surgery, and if that's the case, he's done for the year. And if that's the case, Rusty's going to be our guy, we'll have to go out and get someone, and we'll wait until Kerry heals up."
Fisher said in his Monday press confrence that the injury to the flexor tendon of Young's thumb would require surgery, and would therefore end Young's season. Fisher said that Chris Simms(notes) would come in and most likely be signed this week. That was per Fisher through the team doctors. What happens with that injury, and Young's situation going forward, and Fisher's overall authority, is a larger matter.
Young later spoke with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, and explained his behavior. Young said that while he knows he didn't handle the situation the right way, his frustration had reached a boiling point over several issues. Fisher's choice to start Kerry Collins last week against the Miami Dolphins was a major problem for Young; the quarterback felt that he had played through enough injuries in the season to earn the team's trust and the starting job. Add that to the fact that Fisher didn't bring him back into the game after the thumb injury - when Young felt that he could go - and it sounds as if the entire issue could have been avoided with more and better communication between Young and Fisher.
Regarding throwing his equipment in the stands, Young said that he usually throws his shoes, hat, and wristbands into the stands after every game, and that he gave his jersey to the daughter of longtime Titans executive vice president Don MacLachlan, a friend and supporter of the quarterback.
Young concluded by telling Schefter that while he knows he handled this the wrong way, there's more to the story. "It is not just me. It falls back on me, but I don't know how to respond to it when it's not just me.
"I'm outnumbered right now,"
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