What I Learned About Football This Week That I Didn't Know Last Week
Vince Young gives off about the worst body language of any backup quarterback I've ever seen.
I was in the Titans' locker room Thursday for 45 minutes and never saw a sign of Young, who lockers next to Kerry Collins and a couple of stalls down from third-stringer Chris Simms. Collins and Simms enjoyed the time in media-access, talking to an out-of-town reporter or two about their team, their old teams, Brett Favre, the Browns hiring Eric Mangini and anything else that came up. Nice, easy conversation. No Young. That's par for the course, one Titans source told me. Young's not one to pal around or shoot the breeze much with Collins.
On Saturday, a few minutes before the opening kickoff of the playoff game against Baltimore, there was Young, the once and perhaps future quarterback king of Tennessee, sitting alone on the bench. Out on the field, loosening up between the Martina McBride rendition of the anthem and the start of the game, was Collins, throwing to a receiver with Simms throwing the ball back.
Before the opening kickoff, Collins and Simms talked together, with Young still on the bench. And often during the game -- except when the three quarterbacks gathered between series with offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger -- Young was away from the action, just watching in his Titans' coat. Maybe there were times when he suggested something to Collins or Heimerdinger, but I never saw it.
When Collins took Young's job early in the season, I wrote that Young was rebuffing Collins' attempt to take him under his wing and show him how to rebound from adversity and become a better player. From what I saw this week, Young's still not willing to listen. A shame. It'll be interesting to see how the Titans, with the sudden arrival of the offseason, handle the Young story. I'd be surprised if they didn't aggressively try to re-sign Collins, whose contract is up. Where would signing Collins leave Young? My feeling is the Titans will look to move him. That's going to be the big story of the Tennessee offseason.
Salary cap-wise, the Titans are under no immediate pressure to move Young. The third-year quarterback's 2009 cap number is a very palatable $4.6 million, but it jumps to $14.2 million in 2010. And if they either cut him or trade him in 2009, he would count as $7.74 million on their cap in 2009 because of the pro-rated signing bonuses and guarantees that would come due immediately. The Titans haven't reached the point of no return with Young the way they did with Pacman Jones a year ago; it's not even close. But they might figure that a $7.74-million cap hit would be a small price to pay to be rid of the Young distraction if they can re-sign Collins.
One big factor in Young's future: Owner Bud Adams, a Texan through and through, loved the pick of Young in the 2006 draft. I doubt he'd be happy with giving up on Young after three star-crossed years. Would he draw a line in the sand and say to Jeff Fisher and GM Mike Reinfeldt, "You can't trade or release Young?'' He might.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
How The Mighty Have Fallen Dept.:
Four miles from Giants Stadium, at the Sports Authority in Clifton, N.J., last Wednesday, in the midst of Giants playoff fever, Reebok had several racks of NFL jerseys selling for $80. You could find an Eli Manning jersey or Brandon Jacobs or Amani Toomer or four or five other Giants for $80. On another rack were jerseys of other NFL players -- Ray Lewis for $80, Vince Young for $80, even Chad Johnson for $80.
To the side was a clearance rack. On the rack were about 75 jerseys, all number 17 for the Giants. Plaxico Burress.
For $19.87 apiece.
At this store deep in Giants territory, you can buy the jersey of the backup quarterback of the Tennessee Titans for four times the price of the jersey of the man who caught the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl for your team 11 months ago.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Back on the road again. What a great weekend. Not just because of the football, but because I discovered Nashville. I never knew what a gem of a city it was.
A stupid gripe first: I don't want to say it was too hot on my Newark-to-Nashville Continental flight the other morning, but the mini-Kit Kat in my lunch snack couldn't be opened because the chocolate was percolating inside. "Little hot in here,'' I mentioned to the flight attendant as we crossed over Morgantown. "You might be able to turn the temperature down a little?''
"It was so cold coming in this morning!'' the pleasant fellow said.
Yes? And that applies to the current Equatorial Guinea climes in here exactly how?
"I will try,'' Cheery-man said, "but by the time the temperature changes, it will be time to get off the plane!''
I see ...
On Friday, sandwiched around a trip to see the Ravens at their downtown hotel, I did two of the most enjoyable things in Peter King Roadtrip History. My wife made the trip with me, and we visited the Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's estate 13 miles northeast of Nashville. Incredibly educational trip, particularly in learning about slavery -- how slaves were housed and treated most notably. Jackson had about 150 slaves on his property. Families of six or eight lived in tiny log cabins, bunking almost wherever there was room.
Just as interesting was the tradition of dueling. In 1806, a man names Charles Dickinson accused Jackson of cheating on a horse race, and Jackson challenged him to a duel at 24 paces. Dickinson fired first, and a bullet lodged in Jackson's chest; it could never be removed and caused him some health problems for the rest of his life. Then, by duel rule, Jackson got the next shot; he killed Dickinson with it.
Seeing Loretta Lynn sing "Coal Miner's Daughter'' at the Ryman Auditorium in the Grand Ole Opry ... well, I can only imagine it's something like someone seeing the Cubs-Cards at Wrigley Field on a sunny July afternoon. And then doing a show-finale duet with Vince Gill ... very, very cool, and that comes from someone with no love for country music.
"Ladies and gentlemen,'' said Gill after the 74-year-old Miss Loretta sang, "you just witnessed a real treat. Legends like Loretta are the reason I got interested in this music in the first place.''
Wonderful acoustics. Pew seating because the Ryman is a former church. All in all, a great night.