Jeff Fisher and Vince Young in happier times
The Vince Young saga is not over yet, sports fans; not by a long shot.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Tennessee Titans' head coach Jeff Fisher informed reporters that due to a torn flexor tendon on the thumb of his throwing hand, Titans' quarterback Vince Young was being placed on the IR pending surgery, thus ending his up and down 2010-2011 season.
Anyone who thinks this is the end of the story, however, had best rethink things.
There are two other very big, very determined, very influential egos in the mix.
One the one hand is Jeff Fisher, the long-tenured, well-respected coach, head of the competition committee, sometimes reluctant but always reliable defender of Young and his "actions."
Coach Fisher could not have been more clear in his disdain, disgust, and overall fatigue in dealing with Young after yet another childish display that goes beyond demonstrating his inability to adjust to the rigors of playing football, much less quarterback, at the professional level.
His childish taunting of the crowd, his storming off the field while throwing his uniform and equipment, his verbal confrontation with the head coach—the HEAD COACH, the guy who ultimately decides if you see playing time—were an embarrassment, to say the least.
At worst, it spells the end of his tenure in Nashville, and if he can't demonstrate the ability to overcome his antics with performance between the sidelines, the fast-approaching end of his career.
In almost any other town, on almost any other team, this would be a pretty cut-and-dry issue. You don't throw equipment, cuss out the coach, and walk out of the after game meeting without paying a pretty significant consequence in, say, San Fransisco.
But this is Tennessee, and the team is the Titans, owned by none other than the increasingly eccentric, possibly senile, Kenneth Stanley "Bud" Adams.
Possibly rivaled only by Oakland's Al Davis in the arena of crazy, Adams has been a team owner longer than anyone in the league; in fact, when he was unable to purchase a team in the NFL in 1959, he conspired with Lamar Hunt to form a whole new league, the AFL, forming the Houston Oilers at the same time.
Along with the Titans/Oilers franchise, Adams was also a part owner of the Houston Mavericks in the old ABA, owned the Nashville Kats of the Arena Football League, and is a member of the American Football League Hall of Fame.
In short, Bud knows sports. Or at least he did before senility set in.
How else do you explain his unwavering support of Young, despite all his antics and meltdowns? How else do you justify that even now, after Young was given a second chance at redemption—one that many felt he neither deserved nor took full advantage of—Adams has already indicated that he stands behind Young, stating that the incident from Sunday and the ensuing ill will between player and coach is a situation that Young and Fisher are going to have to "work out?"
Either Adams is loony, or there is more at stake than having to take a few lumps monetarily with the loss of Young in mid-contract.
Still, Adams is the owner of the team, and like it or not, has the right to tell his head coach what to do. Jerry Jones has been doing it for years in Dallas, as has Dan Snyder in Washington.
Which leads us to the dilemma: despite his long tenure, despite the respect he has garnered throughout the league, despite his stated desire to "finish his career" in Nashville, Fisher is first and foremost an employee.
And Bud Adams is his employer.
The question is, who will Bud value more: a quarterback who plays relatively well for a dozen games or so, then crumbles physically, mentally and emotionally at the first sign of struggle and fan dissatisfaction?
Or the well-respected, successful, proven coach who has given Adams everything short of a Super Bowl trophy since taking the helm of the Oilers in 1994?
Only time will tell. And knowing Adams, he won't wait long to make his desires known.