Tuesday, February 28, 2006

How i'd like to know Vince Young

Two years ago I went to Pasadena to watch Michigan play Texas, and unfortunately I learned there isn’t a player more consistently defiant of 93 thousand people’s conception of reality than Vince Young. It wasn’t how I wanted it to go – Dusty Mangum kicking the game-winning field goal through the uprights I was sitting behind and all– but it was difficult to hate someone who was just so damn good at proving you wrong. Vince would do something superhuman, I’d smash my bag of kettle corn and kick my empty cup of soda, and each time it happened I thought it would be the last time. I’d never seen the kind of stuff Vince was doing – the kind that made Houdini look like one of those street-acts whose best trick always involved asking you to cut a deck of cards in half – but I never though it would keep happening.

In a way, the more he did it the more confident I became, because the latest disabling of my hopes only meant Michigan was that much closer to finally figuring him out. I thought to myself, you roll a die with nine sides that say “yes” and one that says “no,” every yes just meant a no was that much more imminent. He was supposed to be denied, solved, tackled, Vince was supposed to roll a no against Michigan. I knew probability, but the problem was I didn’t know Vince Young. It turned out the only side he rolled was “yes”, and it was the kind of yes that’s about 101% certain to rip your guts through your chest and probably break a few ribs in the process. He never did anything discretely, never defeated you with a surgeon’s care or premeditated diagram, and no one ever seemed to expect otherwise. But Michigan, Southern Cal – my damn ten-sided theoretical die – they still couldn’t stop him. My uncle was there with me in Pasadena, and every time Vince would make a play he’d lean over to me, “Un-friggin-believable; how does he keep doing it?” he’d say. And I think that’s really the best way to measure how good someone is at something, how often they redefine what you thought was impossible.

But in recent days Vince’s football talents haven’t really meant anything; a few numbers (a 6 and a 1 to be exact, the 1 just recently made relevant) and a plummeting draft-stock the only elements of a gaudy resume anyone seems to care about highlighting. It’s not that I don’t care that his score even at 16 is still pretty low, it’s that as the player I only know to be a peerless and unprecedented one-man domination, I just don’t want to recognize it, not yet at least.

I don’t know what kind of playbook Texas drew up for Vince and how well he handled the material cognitively, but his game was never based on throwing the ball and making coverage-reads anyway. Yes, he did it well when he needed to, but there's not a person who's drafting him in the top 3 because of how well he throws a button-hook or a square-out. He can run the ball, and god damnit he can do it as good as anyone; that’s what Vince Young is, and that’s the only thing I want to know him as. I like that he can’t throw a football the right way, that he knows how to stand in falling confetti as good as anyone (which is to say, he deserves to stand in falling confetti as much as anyone). I like that he didn’t win the Heisman Trophy too, because the only ballots that mattered were the two he submitted in Pasadena, and those had to mean more than some figurine anyway.

Vince's childhood is the kind that’s supposed to have more of an impact on his game than it has, and it’s as if everything else about him was just as impermeable. But how he handled the NFL’s complex schemes and linebackers who were about as fast as some of the DBs he played against in college, that was always going to be the issue with him, six, 16, or not. John Clayton and Mel Kiper and all the people who make their living talking about everything you think is too unimportant to, they were going to analyze that to death regardless. But I could deal with that, because eventually the blather of people who have nothing to blather about becomes a faint drone that I can ignore before it eventually disappears. Vince would resume being the guy who finally beat the team everyone hated.

Now I have some serious doubts about how good Vince can be in the NFL, but this is the guy solely responsible for ending Team Hollywood’s three-year sun-tanning in the media-spotlight, and anyone who isn’t at least proud of him for that should probably stop watching college football. So that’s why when I hear how this Wonderlic test is changing the way people think of Vince I get a bit nervous, nervous that it might change the way I think of him too. Because you see, there’s only one way I want to know Vince: Crushed kettle corn beneath my feet, uncle shouting incredulously in my ear, and not one in 93 thousand who have any idea if “impossible” even exists.

7 Comments:

Blogger Maize n Brew Dave said...

As always, excellent work.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Kenny said...

Good work, living in the land of Team Hollywood where no one who cared about college football 5 years ago and now everyone is supposedly a big time SC fan, you have no idea how happy I was when Vince won that game, he has earned a spot in the list of my favorite players of all time.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Al said...

I’m a misplaced Texan in NW Arkansas…but, I’m happy. I attended UT/Austin when Earl Campbell was running into history, and I’ve been a big fan ever since, win or loose. I’m most proud of how the Longhorns won…like champions. And excluding the post game remarks by one individual, the last two Rose Bowl games reflected the finest college football has to offer.

After reading countless articles about Vince today, pro and con, I stumbled across an eye catching (I love Michigan’s colors) blog, and proceeded to read the finest article I think I’ll ever read about Vince…Thanks.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

One of the hardest things to do is admire those who beat you, and I've never had any problem feeling the way I do about him. I'm sure Kenny and I are just two of many rival fans who feel that way. College football had its share of icons last year, and Vince was the best of them all. I don't see anyone that dynamic in the NFL, and I can say without doubt that every Sunday-viewew has been watching football a day too late. It's like al said, what you saw in the past two Rose Bowls is everything college football's supposed to be. Dave, al, Kenny, thanks for all the compliments, I really appreciate them.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. Vince was something college football fans haven't seen in a longtime (Vick included. He won at the biggest stage and came through in the clutch. Ah the media, funny how Cutler is slowly becoming the greatest pro prospect ever. Has he ever been to a bowl game? What is the biggest game he has ever played? Just because he has good mechanics and runs a 4.7 40 dosen't make him a better prospect than Vince. Good luck to both but Vince deserves better.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome piece of work.. Your best yet

- Chili-man upstairs --

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad Vince Young completely sucks in the NFL. He is the most over hyped player of all time. He is very lucky The Titans play such great defense.

7:13 AM  

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