Jailed former NFL player wants to make comeback despite concussion concerns

·3 min read
Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young has attributed his mental instability to concussions suffered while playing football. (AP)
Former Lions wide receiver Titus Young has attributed his mental instability to concussions suffered while playing football. (AP)

Former Detroit Lions second-round pick Titus Young blames concussions he sustained in his football career for the mental state that led to his current four-year prison sentence in Southern California, according to excerpts from a diary he kept last year that a relative shared with the Los Angeles Times.

Young, 28, also believes “God has a plan for me and deep down I believe it’s to dominate the NFL.”

The Los Angeles native and Boise State product hauled in 81 receptions for 990 yards and 10 touchdowns in two seasons for the Lions before his release in February 2013 following multiple confrontations with teammates and coaches. He was also released 10 days after being claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams due to similar behavioral concerns, and he has not played since.

Since 2013, Young “accumulated at least 25 criminal charges — including 10 for assault or battery — in Southern California,” according to the Los Angeles Times. His most recent charge — assault with a deadly weapon and felony battery that resulted in an acquaintance requiring eight stitches in January 2016 — earned him a four-year sentence at California Rehabilitation Center in April of last year. He is also concurrently serving a two-year sentence for a separate battery charge around the same time.

Following both incidents, Young cited concussions for his mental state. His family has also blamed his behavior on concussions, including one that allegedly went undiagnosed during his rookie season.

Between the end of his NFL career and last year’s prison sentencing, Young received treatment at multiple psychiatric hospitals and rehabilitation facilities, per the L.A. Times. Doctors at UCLA’s Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital diagnosed Young with bipolar, while Crosby Centers psychologist Robert Knol later testified that Young suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

“My fight or flight in my brain was off and that could be due to head trauma suffered while playing football,” Young wrote in the diary obtained by the L.A. Times. “All I know now is I’m back to normal and I take good medication and I’m not ashamed of it either.

“It’s kind of hard for me to think wisely in sticky situations where I feel threatened. Taking the medicine allows my mood to be stabilized and helps with hearing voices. Yeah, I have heard voices, as well. The voices came and came from the bipolar. It’s usually when I let my brain relax and focus on others. I can kind of hear them.”

The NFL Players’ Association sent a newsletter in March 2015 warning its members to use “extreme caution” with respect to Crosby Centers president Larry Burns. The newsletter said Burns is “actively engaged in the solicitation of current and former NFL players to undergo treatment for concussion-related injuries” and “has accumulated numerous convictions for felony fraud-related violations.”

Burns, who has testified on Young’s behalf, reportedly called the NFLPA’s warning “a slander.”

Young is eligible for parole in March.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!