Young has grown up, has confidence back

After sitting down with Vince Young for our interview for NFL GameDay Morning — which airs Sunday at 9 a.m. ET on NFL Network — earlier this week, I came away thinking about how much confidence impacts a player’s ability to succeed. When a young player uses his tools and talent to produce consistent success, he quickly grows into a great player.

Young entered the league full of confidence, but the tools that used to work for him in college no longer produced the same success at the NFL level. It was then that Young began to struggle and lose his confidence. While lacking in confidence his career took some negative turns, and it started a momentum that snowballed on him. There’s no doubt that while he watched Kerry Collins win 13 straight games during 2008, Young was able to sit back and ponder if he really loved the game.

What Young did, though, was go back to work. He went out and began to be a student of the game. He went out and talked to others who had mentored him.

One thing that shouldn’t be discounted is the impact the death of Steve McNair before the 2009 season had on Young. It had a profound impact on him. McNair wasn’t around for Young to lean on. In fact, Young is currently mentoring McNair’s two sons.

Young has grown up. He had to grow up off the field before he could grow up on the field.

By going back to work, and listening to the words of people like Mike Heimerdinger and Jeff Fisher, when it seemed like everyone had lost confidence in him, Young went and found confidence and faith in himself. Slowly but surely, through his work habits and Titans owner Bud Adams, who never lost faith in him, Young’s teammates and coaches began to find faith in him again.

Just think, it took the team going 0-6 before going back to Young last season. They went back to Young, it was his moment and he got his second chance, and he said he was going to take advantage of it. He did.

Sitting with Young, I heard him say that many of the people who were in his corner are no longer there. He’s surrounded himself with new people. That, more than anything, caught my attention. It tells me the young man is maturing. He’s not leaning on others, he’s learned to lean on himself.

He’s learned to do that, and I think his confidence has come back.

When I attended Titans training camp last summer, Young was playing phenomenal football. Talking to him at that point, I was blown away that he had matured beyond my imagination. He was a whole different person. Talking with him again this week, I still saw those things, and everything he’s worked on has come to fruition.

Confidence and swagger separate players in the NFL. It’s a league full of alpha males. Imagine throwing all those athletes on the field and saying “Go get it.” It’s the highest level of physical, combative competition that you can have that’s legal. You don’t stand one moment of survival unless you go out there believing that you’re the baddest thing walking.

Young started believing in himself again, probably before anyone else did. His confidence has come full circle.

— Solomon Wilcots

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