Vince Young’s comeback is going to happen. On Thursday he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Young has not played meaningful football since 2011 and is now 33 years old. But if Young can succeed in the CFL, it could be big for everybody.
Young was one of the best pure athletes to ever come out of Houston high school football, and the city has produced a lot of them. He was an incredible threat as an open-field runner, boasted a big arm and a swagger that made him appear invincible. In college, he was every bit the player everyone expected, and led the Longhorns to a rare national title, almost single-handedly willing the Horns past the unbeatable USC Trojans. Early in his NFL career, he found success with the Titans, going 8-5 as a starter his rookie season. But that was Young at 23. This is Young at 33. He is not the same athlete.
His NFL career went downhill fast. The pressure of playing at the highest level was too much. He threw more picks than touchdowns (46 TDs to 51 interceptions) over his career. After five years in Tennessee, he added another failed year in Philadelphia, appeared in a couple camps and was not heard from again until now.
1) He has not played in six years. There’s no spin to put on that. He was not very good when we last saw him.
2) He will have to learn a different game. The wider field, receivers in motion, three downs…it will be an adjustment.
3) He’s put on a few pounds. A heavier Young might not be the same running threat.
It will be fun to see Young on a football field again. If he can adjust to the rules and this gamble pays off, he could make a real difference on the field. He has a strong enough arm to handle the prairie winds, and the wider field will give him a chance to make more plays with his legs if he can still run.
Let’s look at why it might work:
1) Maybe he has matured and will be able to handle things better this time around. He won’t face NFL pressure, but the Riders are the equivalent of playing for the Cowboys in Canada. They are either loved or hated. They have a rabid fanbase, and Young was never great at dealing with adversity. But if he succeeds, he will be beloved.
2) Young will bring attention to the league in the States, and that’s a good thing. He still has an army of fans that still think the Texans should sign him. If he wins — and he very well could — it might open the door to one more shot at the NFL. If not? There’s nothing wrong with three or four years of CFL success.
3) It will be fun to see VY on the football field again. Even a shadow of himself would be exciting to watch.
The bad news? It probably won’t work. But the Riders are desperate for a quarterback after trading longtime starter Darian Durant. If it does work? It will be an interesting season in Saskatchewan. And if it does work, the Riders win big on a gamble that does not cost them anything in the way of assets. Young might earn a ticket back to the NFL. If it fails? No harm done, and the “sign Vince Young” contingent can shut up forever.
Hopefully it does no fail, and if nothing else it will be fun to watch.
And it might be a win/win for everyone.