Titus Young's Refusal of NFL Help Was Tip of the Iceberg for Troubled WR

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2013

Recently, Titus Young has become the subject of headlines and punchlines after being arrested three times in one week. It turns out that the former NFL wide receiver was offered help long before he stole the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports reports that the league, led by director of player engagement and former defensive back Troy Vincent, reached out to Young more than a year before his recent legal woes. The former Boise State star declined the help:

"It was someone very, very close to him who was just concerned – really concerned," Vincent told Yahoo! Sports by phone on Tuesday. "Once we got the call, we sent someone out to meet with him."

Vincent said his department "tried multiple times" to work with Young to no avail.

"We were told he was not interested in support," Vincent said. "We went to people very close to his center of influence, to reach out to see how we can support him. The response was of someone who is not open arms to being supported."

The comments by Vincent make you wonder if anything would have been different if Young was more open to the NFL. It could have very well been a turning point for the troubled star, and now it seems like a missed opportunity.

Instead, the stories surrounding the receiver continue to get more bizarre. David Leon Moore of USA Today reported that at a recent court hearing, when he was made aware of three more charges, Young didn't respond to the judge:

In court Friday, Young, appearing inside a protective cage wearing inmate orange, was addressed by the judge.

"Good morning, sir."

No reply.

"Can you hear me?"

No reply.

"Are you Titus Demetrius Young?"

No reply.

The report goes on to say that even his father, Richard, attempted to get a reply but was unsuccessful. His attorney added that he was choosing to remain silent.

Further hearings are scheduled for next week.

The elder Young previously told Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News that his son is having trouble overcoming a brain disorder.

Richard Young said his son suffers from a disorder caused by his brain being compressed into the front of his skull, but he couldn't remember its name Monday. The father said his son's disposition changed after he suffered a concussion during his rookie season, although the Lions never listed that as an injury.

The Lions declined comment.

After the Detroit Lions released Young in February, he was claimed off waivers by the St. Louis Rams. His new team let him go just days later, and he's since remained unsigned.

It all goes back to the NFL's attempt to help. Somebody was obviously concerned enough to contact the league almost 18 months ago. No progress was made, despite the multiple attempts, and things have spiraled out of control.

The Yahoo! Sports report definitely brings the story into a new perspective. Vincent is among those who believe Young's legal troubles could have been avoided if different choices were made when the league tried to assist.

Vincent called situations like this "our greatest challenge," because a player often doesn't believe he needs help until (or even well after) it's too late. He said he was deeply disappointed when he got news of Young's legal troubles earlier this month.

"You're not surprised when you get the call and it's in reference to him," Vincent said. "You just say this could possibly have been prevented."

Young displayed NFL-level talent during his 26 career games. He caught 10 touchdowns and had nearly 1,000 yards receiving—good numbers for a secondary option in the Detroit passing game. The ability was there for him to play for a long time.

Now, that's the least of his concerns. Young, and those around him, have to make getting him back on the right track the top priority. Football shouldn't even be on the radar, especially since it's no guarantee another team would give him a chance anytime soon.

For his sake, hopefully the days of negative headlines and punchlines are over.