It was fitting that it ended up being Vince Young that Tarvaris Jackson replaced in Buffalo on Monday because, while Young has plummeted throughout the years, Jackson has risen through perseverance and hard work.
Jackson, a second-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft, certainly hasn't been anything special during his career. He's completed 59.4 percent of his passes in six seasons, and he's thrown 38 touchdowns to 35 interceptions.
But Jackson has become an unlikely example of how to do things the right way for a man whose talent has never been fully realized.
Young, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft, has followed the opposite trajectory as Jackson. He made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season after starring at Texas, then again in 2009-2010. He became a better pocket passer throughout the years after rushing for 552 yards and seven touchdowns in 2006-2007. He was enjoying a career year in the pocket two years ago with the Tennessee Titans.
But while Jackson stayed out of trouble, Young didn't, evidenced by his dismissal from the Titans in July 2011 a few months after throwing his shoulder pads into the stands and getting in a yelling match with then-head coach Jeff Fisher following a game against the Washington Redskins.
Young had a chance at the Bills' No. 2 quarterback spot this offseason, but he was ultimately released by the Bills after going 12-of-26 for 103 yards and two interceptions against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Saturday's preseason game.
Young's career path has served as a reminder for all players trying to make it in the NFL. Success can be fleeting in the world's most competitive football league, and nothing can be taken for granted.
But don't tell that to Jackson. He knows all too well. He's been doubted since his rookie season and constantly battled to remain relevant as a pro.
Last season, Jackson's hard work paid off, as he completed 60 percent of his passes for over 3,000 yards with the Seahawks. He also ran for 108 yards and a touchdown. He led the Seahawks to five wins in their last eight games.
Sure, he still threw 14 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, but nonetheless, it was a sign of progress. Forward progress. The same can't be said about Young.
When the Bills traded for Jackson on Monday, they showed that they valued hard work and dedication over unrealized potential.
It's not only a lesson for Young, but for any player trying to make it in the National Football League.
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