What's Wrong With These Longhorn Stars?
The Longhorns of the University of Texas is a Mecca of football. Consistently, they are in the top 25 of any polls. They churn out Heisman winners on a frequent basis. There's just one problem though, all these "stars" turn out as flops in the NFL.
Why is this?
Let's take a look at three former stars from Texas and see how they have fared in the NFL.
RB Cedric Benson
Drafted: 4th overall by the Chicago Bears in 2005
Current status: free agent
Benson was the Longhorn's starting back from 2001-2004. He was repeatedly compared to Ricky Williams and was one of the nation's top backs. He finished his college career with 5,540 rushing yards and ranked sixth of all time in NCAA Division-1 history.
He went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2005 draft. After a long hold-out, forcing Benson to miss training camp, he finally came to a four-year deal worth $35 million. Because he had missed training camp, he failed to start for the Bears in the 2005 season.
Instead, Thomas Jones got the start. During the 2006 season, Jones and Benson fought for the starting job in a heated contest. He finally got the start in the 2007 season when Jones was traded to the Jets. In his entire NFL career, Benson has rushed for 1,593 yards and 10 TDs.
In May of 2008, Benson was arrested for allegedly operating a boat while intoxicated and resisting arrest. He was later released on bail for an amount between 10 thousand to 14 thousand dollars and an additional 4,500 dollars for resisting arrest.
He was later arrested again for driving while intoxicated in June of 2008. Police say that he ran a red light and failed a sobriety test. Following this latest "dissapointment" he was released by the Bears and is now a free agent.
RB Ricky Williams
Drafted: 5th overall by the New Orleans Saints in 1999
Issue: drugs (mainly marijuana); depression; social anxiety disorder
Current status: playing for the Miami Dolphins
Bad boy Ricky was possibly the biggest star in college football when Mike Ditka and the New Orleans Saints drafted him in 1999. A beast in college ball, he either holds or shares 20 different NCAA football records.
The highlight of his career was his senior year in 1998. During that year he rushed for 6,279 yards and won the Heisman for his outstanding play. Once could say that the man was a genius on the field.
In 1999, Mike Ditka traded all of the Saints's draft picks to get Williams. He had done pretty well in the NFL, until it was discovered that he was addicted to marijuana in 2004. Williams soon retired from football and went off the scene for a few years.
Williams soon returned to the NFL only to be banned from football in 2006. The reason was because he had allegedly failed another drug test. With that, Williams packed up his bags and went to the CFL to play for the Toronto Argonauts. Doing quite well there, he injured his shoulder during a game. That injury made him miss quite a bit of the season.
Eventually, in an effort to get back into the NFL, Wiliams put himself through a ritual of drug testing and yoga. In 2007, his efforts were awarded as the NFL reinstated him to the Miami Dolphins. In his NFL career, he has rushed for 7,112 yards and made 47 TDs.
QB Vince Young
Drafted: 3rd overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2006
Issue: hurt feelings and other unknowns
Current status: playing for the Tennessee Titans
Of the two stars previously mentioned, Vince Young is probably the last guy you'd expect to have issues. Drafted by the Titans, VY was a star that had a bright future. He was redshirted in his freshman year and learned the Longhorn playbook inside and out. When he finally did play in his sophmore year, he was awesome.
He led Texas to the Rose Bowl with an 11-1 record. He gained a reputation as a dual-threat for his ability to both pass and rush. He led the Longhorns to a 11-0 record the next season and allowed them to be ranked No. 1. His 30-2 record is the made him UT's best quarterback in history. During the 2008 opening game, the Longhorns retired his no.10 jersy.
Young was eventually drafted by the Tennesse Titans in 2006. During that season, he led them to an 8-8 record and was picked for the Pro Bowl. Of all the 2006 quarterback rookies that included Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, and Bruce Gradkowski. In 2007, he was once again on fire as he led the Titans to the playoff and finished with his stats as 2,459 yards passing with 9 TDs and 17 interceptions.
In his first game of the 2008 season, he was absolutely aweful. During the game, he threw two interceptions and the fans started booing him. Soon after, he suddenly dissappeared with people saying he was going to commit suicide and that he was depressed.
Police and searchers eventually found him and convinced him to return to the Titans. He is currently getting over his issues as his backup, Kerry Collins is the starter. His career stats are 4,745 passing yards with 21 TDs and 30 interceptions.
These aren't the only Longhorns players that have had troubles. Other players have had their shares of issues to. Among them, Shaun Rodgers and Mike Williams—both have experienced relativly bad careers. So what's the problem? I have a theory that seems to be in line with what other Longhorns have said.
These guys can't handle losing and failing. When they were in Texas, they were stars that were succesful. Roy Williams, WR for the Detroit Lions said he was shocked when he first heard fans booing him.
Players in Texas get special treatment and they like it. It's hard for them to leave. An AFC North executive said to ESPN, "They get treated so well at Texas that certain individuals can't handle the demands that come with being in the NFL. It happens at other schools but Texas players really get used to a different level of first-class treatment."
While there have been players that have had troubles, there are those who have had success. In fact, 29 former Longhorns are now starters at their teams. According to officials, Texas has adopted a new program to help players adjust from college to the NFL. It's working quite nicely.
I'm not trying to put down the Longhorns as a whole. I'm just saying that they should take a look at what they're doing. Adjust the program so that your players don't get depressed when they fail in the real world.
As one former Longhorn said, "In the NFL you have to earn everything you get. But at Texas, they pretty much give you everything."
Stop giving your players everything.
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